Glossary of Legal Terms – I

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From “Immigrants” to “Issue”

Immigrants
Persons who come into a foreign country or region to live.

Immigration
The entry of foreign persons into a country to live permanently.

Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
A federal agency which regulates immigration and naturalization of aliens.

Immunity
Grant by the court, which assures someone will not face prosecution in return for providing criminal evidence.

Impanel
To seat a jury. When voir dire is finished and both sides have exercised their challenges, the jury is impanelled. The jurors are sworn in and the trial is ready to proceed.

Impeachment
A criminal proceeding against a public official.

Impeachment of a witness
An attack on the credibility (believability) of a witness, through evidence introduced for that purpose.

Implied contract
A contract not created or evidenced by the explicit agreement of the parties but one inferred by law; as the use of electric power in your home implies a contract with the light company.

In loco parentis
“In the place of the parent”; refers to actions of a custodian, guardian or other person acting in the parent’s place.

Inadmissible
That which, under the rules of evidence, cannot be admitted or received as evidence.

Incapacity
Lack of legal ability to act; disability, incompetence; lack of adequate power.

Incarceration
Imprisonment in a jail or penitentiary.

Incompetent
One who lacks ability, legal qualification, or fitness to manage his own affairs.

Independent executor
A special kind of executor, permitted by the laws of certain states, who performs the duties of an executor without intervention by the court.

Indeterminate sentence
A sentence of imprisonment to a specified minimum and maximum period of time, specifically authorized by statute, subject to termination by a parole board or other authorized agency after the prisoner has served the minimum term.

Indictment
A written accusation by a grand jury charging a person with a crime.

Indigent
Needy or impoverished. A defendant who can demonstrate his or her indigence to the court may be assigned a court-appointed attorney at public expense.

Information
Accusatory document, filed by the prosecutor, detailing the charges against the defendant. An alternative to an indictment, it serves to bring a defendant to trial.

Infraction
A violation of law not punishable by imprisonment. Minor traffic offenses generally are considered infractions.

Inheritance tax
A state tax on property that an heir or beneficiary under a will receives from a deceased person’s estate. The heir or beneficiary pays this tax.

Initial appearance
The defendant comes before a judge within hours of the arrest to determine whether or not there is probable cause for his or her arrest.

Injunction
A prohibitive order or remedy issued by the court at the suit of the complaining party, which forbids the defendant to do some act which he is threatening or attempting to do. Conversely, it may require him to perform an act which he is obligated to perform but refuses to do.

Insolvent
When the total debt of an entity is greater than all of its property.

Instructions
Judge’s explanation to the jury before it begins deliberations of the question it must answer and the applicable law governing the case. (Also referred to as charge.)

Intangible assets
Nonphysical items such as stock certificates, bonds, bank accounts, and pension benefits that have value and must be taken into account in estate planning.

Intentional tort
Wrong perpetrated by one who intends to break the law.

Interlocutory
Temporary; provisional; interim; not final.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
The federal agency which administers the tax laws of the United States.

Interrogatories
A set or series of written questions propounded to a party, witness, or other person having information or interest in a case; a discovery device.

Intervention
An action by which a third person who may be affected by a lawsuit is permitted to become a party to the suit.

Intestate
The status of a person who dies without leaving a will.

Intestate succession
A succession of property when the deceased has left no will, or when the will has been revoked.

Involuntary bankruptcy
A proceeding initiated by creditors requesting the bankruptcy court to place a debtor in liquidation.

Issue
1. The disputed pint in a disagreement between parties in a lawsuit. 2. To send out officially, as in to issue an order.

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