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Glossary


Elements of a crime
Specific factors that define a crime which the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction. The elements that must be proven are (1) that a crime has actually occurred, (2) that the accused intended the crime to happen, and (3) a timely relationship between the first two factors.
Eminent domain
The power of the government to take private property for public use through condemnation.
En banc
All the judges of a court sitting together. Appellate courts can consist of a dozen or more judges, but often they hear cases in panels of three judges. If a case is heard or reheard by the full court, it is heard en banc.
Enjoining
An order by the court telling a person to stop performing a specific act.
Entrapment
A defense to criminal charges alleging that agents of the government induced a person to commit a crime he/she otherwise would not have committed.
Equal protection of the law
The guarantee in the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that all persons be treated equally by the law. Court decisions have established that this guarantee requires that courts be open to all persons on the same conditions, with like rules of evidence and modes of procedure; that persons be subject to no restrictions in the acqusition of property, the enjoyment of personal liberity, and the pursuit of happiness, which do not generally affect others; that persons are liable to no other or greater burdens than such are laid upon others, and that no different or greater punishment is enforced against them for a violation of the laws.
Equity
Generally, justice or fairness. Historically, equity refers to a separate body of law developed in England in reaction to the inability of the common-law courts, in their strict adherence to rigid writs and forms of action, to consider or provide a remedy for every injury. The king therefore established the court of chancery to do justice between parties in cases were the common law would give inadequate redress. The principle of this system of law is that equity will find a way to achieve a lawful result when legal procedure is inadequate. Equity and law courts are now merged in most jurisdictions.
Escheat
The process by which a deceased person’s property goes to the state if no heir can be found.
Escrow
Money or a written instrument such as a deed that, by agreement between two parties, is held by a neutral third party (held in escrow) until all conditions of the agreement are met.
Estate
An estate consists of personal property (car, household items, and other tangible items), real property and intangible property, such as stock certificates and bank accounts, owned in the individual name of a person at the time of the person’s death. It does not include life insurance proceeds unless the estate was made the beneficiary) or other assets that pass outside the estate (like a joint tenancy asset.)
Estate tax
Generally, a tax on the privilege of transferring property to others after a person’s death. In addition to federal estate taxes, many states have their own estate taxes.
Estoppel
A person’s own act, or acceptance of facts, which preclude his or her later making claims to the contrary.
Estreature
Civil aspect of a bond forfeiture.
Et al
All others.
Evidence
Testimony or exhibits received by the court at any stage of court proceedings.
Evidence sheet
A list of all the items entered as evidence in a trial or hearing.
Ex parte
On behalf of only one party, without notice to any other party. For example, a request for a search warrant is an ex parte proceeding, since the person subject to the search is not notified of the proceeding and is not present at the hearing.
Ex parte proceeding
The legal procedure in which only one side is represented. It differs from the adversary system or adversary proceeding.
Ex post facto
After the fact. The Constitution prohibits the enactment of ex post facto laws. These are laws that permit conviction and punishment for a lawful act performed before the law was changed and the act made illegal.
Exceptions
Declarations by either side in a civil or criminal case reserving the right to appeal a judge’s ruling upon a motion. Also, in regulatory cases, objections by either side to points made by the other side or to rulings by the agency or one of its hearing officers.
Exclusionary rule
The rule preventing illegally obtained evidence to be used in any trial.
Execute
To complete the legal requirements (such as signing before witnesses) that make a will valid. Also, to execute a judgment or decree means to put the final judgment of the court into effect.
Executor
A personal representative, named in a will, who administers an estate.
Exempt Employee

Employees with exempt status are exempt from the protections of the wage and hour laws of their state, or of the Federal government (Fair Labor Standards Act). Examples of exempt employees under Federal law are "executives," "professionals" and full-time students, as defined under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Exempt employees must always be paid on a salary basis, not subject to reduction based on the quality or quantity of work performed.

Exempt property
In bankruptcy proceedings, this refers to certain property protection by law from the reach of creditors.
Exhibits
Any paper or object offered in court that is marked for identification or evidence.
Exonerate
Removal of a charge, responsibility or duty.
Expungement
Official and formal erasure of a record or partial contents of a record.
Extenuating circumstances
Circumstances which render a crime less aggravated, heinous, or reprehensible than it would otherwise be.
Extradition
Surrender by one state to another of a person accused or convicted of an offense outside its own territory and within territorial jurisdiction of the other, with the other state which is competent to try him/her, demanding his/her surrender.