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View a plain English definition of common legal terms. Learn what they really mean.

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Abstract of Title   a history of the title to a piece of property, with all conveyances, transfers, encumberances, and liens.
Accessory   a person who contributes to the commission of a crime in a minor way.
Accident   an unforeseen event, even one due to the negligence of another.
Accomplice   a person who contributes to the commission or attempted commission of a crime in a major way so as to be held accountable for the same crime.
Accounting, Action for   a lawsuit brought by one business partner against another in order to see a formal accounting statement of the partnership.
Accusation   a criminal charge against a person or corporation.
Accuse   to bring a formal criminal charge against a person or corporation.
Accused   the person who is charged with a criminal offense; the defendant.
Acquit   to set free from a criminal charge.
Action (at law)   a judicial proceeding brought by one person against another or a corporation to get compensation for a wrong or stop the other party from committing a wrong; to prosecute.
Actionable   Wrongful behavior that may provide reasons for a law suit.
Actus Reus   A "wrongful deed," "guilty act" or "deed of crime." All crimes have two elements: performing the act (actus reus), and the intent to commit the act (mens rea).
Affidavit   A written statement sworn to be true before an authorized officer such as a notary public.
Appeal   Procedure where a party to a legal proceeding asks a higher court to reverse or modify a lower court's decision.
Arbitration   Dispute resolution by a third party who has been chosen by opposing parties who agree to abide by the decision.
Arraignment   The initial appearance of the defendant before the court where charges are read.
Articles of Incorporation   The basic rules and laws governing the operation of a company.
Assets   Total resources or property of a person or business, such as cash, notes and accounts receivable, securities, inventories, goodwill, or real estate.
Attorney-Client Privilege   The right of a person and duty of his attorney to keep their communications confidential.
Audit   The official examination of financial accounts.


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