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LEGAL DICTIONARY - LETTER C


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CANON LAW
It is the law of the Christian Church. Has little or no legal effect today. Canon law refers to that body of law which has been set by the Christian Church and which, in virtually all places, is not binding upon citizens and has virtually no recognition in the judicial system. Some citizens resort to canon law, however, for procedures such as marriage annulments to allow for a Christian church marriage where one of the parties has been previously divorced. Many church goers and church officers abide by rulings and doctrines of canon law. Also it is known as "ecclesiastical law."

CASE
Any proceeding, action, cause, lawsuit or controversy initiated through the court system by filing a complaint, petition, indictment or information.

CIVIL LAW
Law inspired by old Roman Law, the primary feature of which was that laws were written into a collection; codified, and not determined, as is common law, by judges. The principle of civil law is to provide all citizens with an accessible and written collection of the laws which apply to them and which judges must follow.

CIVIL PROCEDURE
The rules used to handle a civil case from the time the initial complaint is filed through pretrial discovery, the trial itself and any subsequent appeal. Each state adopts its own rules of civil procedure (often set out in a separate Code of Civil Procedure), but many are influenced by or modeled on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

CONDONATION
It is the act of forgiving one's spouse who has committed an act of wrongdoing that would constitute a ground for divorce.  Condonation generally is proven by living and cohabiting with the spouse after learning that the wrongdoing was committed. It often is used as a defense to a divorce.

COMMON LAW MARRIAGE
In some states, a type of marriage in which couples can become legally married by living together for a long period of time, representing themselves as a married couple and intending to be married. Contrary to popular belief, the couple must intend to be married and act as though they are for a common law marriage to take effect -- merely living together for a long time won't do it.

COMMIT
To lawfully send a person to prison, a reformatory or an asylum

COMPLAINT
(1) (Criminal) Formal written charge that a person has committed a criminal offense. (2) (Civil) Initial document entered by the plaintiff which states the claims against the defendant.

CONFESSION
A statement made by a person suspected or charged with a crime, that he (or she) did, in fact, commit that crime.

CONTRACT
It is an agreement between persons which obliges each party to do or not to do a certain thing. Technically, a valid contract requires an offer and an acceptance of that offer, and, in common law countries, consideration. Contract law that body of law which regulates the enforcement of contracts.

CONVICTION
It is the formal decision of a criminal trial which finds the accused guilty. It is the finding of a judge or jury, on behalf of the state, that a person has, beyond reasonable doubt, committed the crime for which he, or she, has been accused. It is the ultimate goal of the prosecution and the result resisted by the defense. Once convicted, an accused may then be sentenced.

COPYRIGHT 
It is a legal device that provides the owner the right to control how a creative work is used. A copyright is comprised of a number of exclusive rights, including the right to make copies, authorize others to make copies, make derivative works, sell and market the work and perform the work. Any one of these rights can be sold separately through transfers of copyright ownership.

COUNCIL
A formal group of experts brought together on a regular basis to debate matters within that sphere of expertise, and with advisory powers to government. For example, Canada has a 'Standards Council of Canada" which debates and proposes standards policies and is able to make recommendations to the government of Canada. It can be contrasted with a commission which, although also a body of experts, is typically given regulatory powers in addition to a role as advisor to the government.

COURT
(1) Place where justice is administered. (2) Judge or judges sitting on the court administering justice.

CRIME
It is an act or omission which is prohibited by criminal law. Each state sets out a limited series of acts (crimes) which are prohibited and punishes the commission of these acts by a fine, imprisonment or some other form of punishment. In exceptional cases, an omission to act can constitute a crime, such as failing to give assistance to a person in peril or failing to report a case of child abuse.