Glossary of Legal Terms – D

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

 

DISCLAIMER

This glossary should not be relied upon as legal advice. It is provided for general informational purposes only. To properly advise on any given situation requires a knowledge of the facts surrounding that situation. Laws and the statutory definitions of terms will vary from state to state. Specific questions should be directed to an attorney licensed in your state.

Damages: Monetary compensation awarded/awardable to a party injured as a result of a breach of contract or a negligent act; the injury sustained due to misfeasance, negligence or breach of contract.

Damper:   A movable plate in a fireplace that allows smoke and fumes to travel up the chimney’s flue.

Days on the market:   The period of time a property is listed for sale until it is sold or taken off the market

De Novo: A new. A trial de novo is a new trial of a case.

De Novo: A new. A trial de novo is a new trial of a case.

Deadbolt lock:   Locks that require a key to open from the outside and a turn button from the inside.

Debt: Liability on a claim.

Debt: Liability on a claim.

Debt:   Any amount one person owes to another.

Debtor: A person or municipality concerning which a case under this title has been commenced.

Debtor: A person or municipality concerning which a case under this title has been commenced.

Decedent: A deceased person.

Decedent: A deceased person.

Decision: The judgment reached or given by a court of law.

Decision: The judgment reached or given by a court of law.

Deck:   A roofless, floored area that adjoins a house.

Declaratory Judgment: Judicial adjudication of the rights of the parties in a lawsuit made to clarify the parties’ legal positions.

Declaratory Judgment: Judicial adjudication of the rights of the parties in a lawsuit made to clarify the parties’ legal positions.

Decree: An order of the court. A final decree is one that fully and finally disposes of the litigation. An interlocutory decree is a preliminary order that often disposes of only part of a lawsuit.

Decree: An order of the court. A final decree is one that fully and finally disposes of the litigation. An interlocutory decree is a preliminary order that often disposes of only part of a lawsuit.

Deed of trust:   A document that gives a lender the right to foreclose on a piece of property if the borrower defaults on the loan.

Deed   The legal document that transfers ownership of a piece of property.

Deep-seal floor drain:   A drain used to dispose of water from the basement floor to a sewer line.

Defamation: That which tends to injure a persons reputation. Libel is published defamation, whereas slander is spoken.

Defamation: That which tends to injure a persons reputation. Libel is published defamation, whereas slander is spoken.

Default Judgment: A judgment against a defendant who has failed to respond or otherwise appear in a lawsuit.

Default Judgment: A judgment against a defendant who has failed to respond or otherwise appear in a lawsuit.

Default: Failure of either party to file required documents or appear in a civil case within a certain period of time.

Default: Failure of either party to file required documents or appear in a civil case within a certain period of time.

Default: Failure to pay or discharge a duty.

Default: Failure to pay or discharge a duty.

Default:   The failure to fulfill a duty or promise or discharge an obligation, such as making monthly mortgage payments.

Defendant: In a civil proceeding, the party being sued; in criminal proceedings, the accused.

Defendant: In a civil proceeding, the party being sued; in criminal proceedings, the accused.

Deferred maintenance:  Any repair or maintenance of a piece of property that has been postponed, resulting in a decline in property value.

Deliberation: A process by which jurors reach a verdict; the act of weighing and examining evidence.

Deliberation: A process by which jurors reach a verdict; the act of weighing and examining evidence.

Delinquent mortgage:   A mortgage that involves a borrower who is behind on payments. If the borrower cannot bring the payments up to date within a specified number of days, the lender may begin foreclosure proceedings.

Demand Note: A written document evidencing indebtedness which is payable upon demand or presentation.

Demand Note: A written document evidencing indebtedness which is payable upon demand or presentation.

Demand: Assert a legal right; claim.

Demand: Assert a legal right; claim.

Demurrer: Defendant’s claim that even if the allegations in a complaint are true, they are not sufficient to impose any liability on the defendant.

Demurrer: Defendant’s claim that even if the allegations in a complaint are true, they are not sufficient to impose any liability on the defendant.

Density test:   An analysis of soil to determine if the surface can support the foundation of a house.

Dentils:   Small rectangular blocks that project from a building, usually under cornices or along rooflines.

Deponent: A witness who gives testimony under oath at a deposition; an affiant.

Deponent: A witness who gives testimony under oath at a deposition; an affiant.

Deposit:   Money given by the buyer with an offer to purchase property. Also called earnest money.

Deposition: Testimony of a witness taken under oath, but not in a courtroom. May be used to discover evidence prior to trial or to preserve testimony for use in court at a later time.

Deposition: Testimony of a witness taken under oath, but not in a courtroom. May be used to discover evidence prior to trial or to preserve testimony for use in court at a later time.

Depreciation: A reduction in property value resulting from age or use.

Depreciation: A reduction in property value resulting from age or use.

Depreciation:   The decline in value of a piece of property.

DES: Diethylstilbestrol (DES) used to be prescribed to pregnant women believed to need more estrogen to maintain their pregnancies. Some of the daughters of these women, who were exposed in the womb to DES, developed a rare form of vaginal cancer.

DES: Diethylstilbestrol (DES) used to be prescribed to pregnant women believed to need more estrogen to maintain their pregnancies. Some of the daughters of these women, who were exposed in the womb to DES, developed a rare form of vaginal cancer.

Descent and Distribution Statutes: State laws that provide for the distribution of estate property of a person who dies without a will. Same as intestacy laws.

Descent and Distribution Statutes: State laws that provide for the distribution of estate property of a person who dies without a will. Same as intestacy laws.

Desertion: One spouse voluntarily leaves the other (without justification or consent from their spouse) for an uninterrupted period of time and with no intentions of returning.

Desertion: One spouse voluntarily leaves the other (without justification or consent from their spouse) for an uninterrupted period of time and with no intentions of returning.

Design/build:   A project in which the owner contracts directly with an individual or company to perform design and construction.

Designer:   Unlike architects, designers are limited to drawing blueprints.

Determination: The final decision of a court.

Determination: The final decision of a court.

Dicta: Plural of “obiter dictum.” A remark made by a judge in a legal opinion that is irrelevant to the decision and does not establish a precedent.

Dicta: Plural of “obiter dictum.” A remark made by a judge in a legal opinion that is irrelevant to the decision and does not establish a precedent.

Digital images:   Images that are incorporated into house listings to give potential buyers a view of the property.

Dimension plans:   Plans which show the layout of a house but are less detailed than full blueprints.

Direct Evidence: Generally, eyewitness evidence. Compare with circumstantial evidence.

Direct Evidence: Generally, eyewitness evidence. Compare with circumstantial evidence.

Direct Examination: The first questioning of witnesses by the party on whose behalf they are called.

Direct Examination: The first questioning of witnesses by the party on whose behalf they are called.

Directed Verdict: Now called Judgment as a matter of Law. An instruction by the judge to the jury to return a specific verdict.

Directed Verdict: Now called Judgment as a matter of Law. An instruction by the judge to the jury to return a specific verdict.

Disability insurance:   An insurance policy which covers an individual’s ability to produce income.

Disability: In the legal sense, lack of legal capacity to perform some act. Used in a physical sense in connection with workers’ compensation acts and is a composite of (a) actual incapacity to perform employment tasks and the wage loss resulting therefrom and (b) physical bodily impairment which may or may not be incapacitating.

Disability: In the legal sense, lack of legal capacity to perform some act. Used in a physical sense in connection with workers’ compensation acts and is a composite of (a) actual incapacity to perform employment tasks and the wage loss resulting therefrom and (b) physical bodily impairment which may or may not be incapacitating.

Disbarment: Form of discipline of a lawyer resulting in the loss (often permanently) of that lawyer’s right to practice law. It differs from censure (an official reprimand or condemnation) and from suspension (a temporary loss of the right to practice law).

Disbarment: Form of discipline of a lawyer resulting in the loss (often permanently) of that lawyer’s right to practice law. It differs from censure (an official reprimand or condemnation) and from suspension (a temporary loss of the right to practice law).

Discharge: Extinguishing the debtor’s personal liability on debts, through the granting of a permanent injunction protecting the debtor from efforts to collect such debts as a personal liability.

Discharge: Extinguishing the debtor’s personal liability on debts, through the granting of a permanent injunction protecting the debtor from efforts to collect such debts as a personal liability.

Disciplinary Hearing: A hearing or professional review conducted by any state or federal administrative agency, licensing or regulatory authority responsible for regulating professional conduct.

Disciplinary Hearing: A hearing or professional review conducted by any state or federal administrative agency, licensing or regulatory authority responsible for regulating professional conduct.

Disclaim: To refuse a gift made in a will.

Disclaim: To refuse a gift made in a will.

Disclosure statement: A written document prepared by the chapter 11 debtor that is designed to provide adequate information to creditors allowing them to evaluate the plan of reorganization

Disclosure statement: A written document prepared by the chapter 11 debtor that is designed to provide adequate information to creditors allowing them to evaluate the plan of reorganization

Disclosure:   A statement to a potential buyer listing information relevant to a piece of property, such as the presence of radon or lead paint.

Discount points:   Fees that a borrower pays at the time the lender makes the loan. A point equals 1 percent of the total loan amount.

Discovery: Various pre-trial procedures including depositions, interrogatories and requests for production, whereby parties obtain evidence to be used at trial.

Discovery: Various pre-trial procedures including depositions, interrogatories and requests for production, whereby parties obtain evidence to be used at trial.

Disfigurement: A technical term in workers’ compensation cases for a serious and permanent scar to the head, neck, or face.

Disfigurement: A technical term in workers’ compensation cases for a serious and permanent scar to the head, neck, or face.

Dismemberment: Loss of sight means total loss of sight which cannot be restored by surgical or other means; loss of hand means that a hand is permanently severed at or above the wrist; and loss of foot means that a foot is permanently severed at or above the ankle.

Dismemberment: Loss of sight means total loss of sight which cannot be restored by surgical or other means; loss of hand means that a hand is permanently severed at or above the wrist; and loss of foot means that a foot is permanently severed at or above the ankle.

Dismiss: To reject a claim or suit temporarily or permanently without further hearing or consideration through an order of dismissal.

Dismiss: To reject a claim or suit temporarily or permanently without further hearing or consideration through an order of dismissal.

Dismissal: The termination of a lawsuit. A dismissal without prejudice allows a lawsuit to be brought before the court again at a later time. In contrast, a dismissal with prejudice prevents the lawsuit from being brought before a court in the future.

Dismissal: The termination of a lawsuit. A dismissal without prejudice allows a lawsuit to be brought before the court again at a later time. In contrast, a dismissal with prejudice prevents the lawsuit from being brought before a court in the future.

Disposable income: Income which is received by the debtor and which is not reasonably necessary for maintenance or support of the debtor or a dependent of the debtor.

Disposable income: Income which is received by the debtor and which is not reasonably necessary for maintenance or support of the debtor or a dependent of the debtor.

Dissent: To disagree. An appellate court opinion setting forth the minority view and outlining the disagreement of one or more judges with the decision of the majority.

Dissent: To disagree. An appellate court opinion setting forth the minority view and outlining the disagreement of one or more judges with the decision of the majority.

Dissolution: The legal end of a marriage.

Dissolution: The legal end of a marriage.

Distressed property:   Property that is in poor physical or financial condition.

Distribution: The payment to creditors of money generated by the liquidation of a debtor’s property.

Distribution: The payment to creditors of money generated by the liquidation of a debtor’s property.

Diversion: The process of removing some minor criminal, traffic, or juvenile cases from the full judicial process, on the condition that the accused undergo some sort of rehabilitation or make restitution for damages.

Diversion: The process of removing some minor criminal, traffic, or juvenile cases from the full judicial process, on the condition that the accused undergo some sort of rehabilitation or make restitution for damages.

Docket: A list of cases to be heard by a court or a log containing brief entries of court proceedings.

Docket: A list of cases to be heard by a court or a log containing brief entries of court proceedings.

Doctrine of avoidable consequences or mitigation of damages: Imposes a duty on victims of a tort to take reasonable steps to minimize their damages after an injury has been inflicted.

Doctrine of avoidable consequences or mitigation of damages: Imposes a duty on victims of a tort to take reasonable steps to minimize their damages after an injury has been inflicted.

Document needs list:   A list of documents a lender requires when a potential submits a loan application.. The required documents range from paycheck stubs to credit card statements.

Domain: The power of the government to take private property for public use through condemnation.

Domain: The power of the government to take private property for public use through condemnation.

Domed ceiling:   A hemispherical ceiling that projects upward without support.

Domicile: The place where a person has been physically present with the intent to make that place a permanent home. A “residence,” on the other hand, is the place where you are living at a particular time. A person can have more than one residence, but only one domicile.

Domicile: The place where a person has been physically present with the intent to make that place a permanent home. A “residence,” on the other hand, is the place where you are living at a particular time. A person can have more than one residence, but only one domicile.

Domicile:   A person’s primary or permanent home.

Dormer:   A window set upright in a sloping roof.

Double Jeopardy: Putting a person on trial more than once for the same crime. It is forbidden by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Double Jeopardy: Putting a person on trial more than once for the same crime. It is forbidden by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Double-hung window:   A window that consists of two sashes that slide up and down.

Dovetail joints:   Joints that lock two pieces of wood together with meshed teeth.

Down payment:   The amount of money a buyer agrees to give the seller when a sales agreement is signed. Complete financing is later secured with a lender.

Down spouts:   A vertical gutter that empties water from the roof to the ground.

Drainage:   A system of gutters and drainpipes that carry water away from the foundation of a house.

Draw:   A payment made to subcontractors or suppliers from a construction loan.

Drop-dead clause: A provision in a contract or rehabilitation plan that requires exact compliance with the debtor’s obligations and gives the creditor an immediate right of action in the event of default.

Drop-dead clause: A provision in a contract or rehabilitation plan that requires exact compliance with the debtor’s obligations and gives the creditor an immediate right of action in the event of default.

Dropped ceiling:   A flat ceiling built lower than the original ceiling.

Dry rot:   A fungal decay that causes wood to become brittle and crumble.

Drywall :  A construction material composed of gypsum or plaster wrapped in paper and produced in large sheets that can be nailed to wall studs.

Dual agency:   A relationship in which a real estate agent or broker represents both parties in a transaction.

Duct:   Any kind of pipe or channel that carries water, wiring or conditioned air through a house.

Due Process of Law: The right of all persons to receive the guarantees and safeguards of the law and the judicial process. It includes such constitutional requirements as adequate notice, assistance of counsel and the rights to remain silent, to a speedy and public trial, to an impartial jury, and to confront and secure witnesses.

Due Process of Law: The right of all persons to receive the guarantees and safeguards of the law and the judicial process. It includes such constitutional requirements as adequate notice, assistance of counsel and the rights to remain silent, to a speedy and public trial, to an impartial jury, and to confront and secure witnesses.

Due-on-sale clause:   Standard language in a mortgage which states that the loan must be paid when a house is sold.

Duplex:   A structure that consists of two separate family units.

Duract: A brand of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), Duract was recalled after rare cases of sever hepatitis and liver failure were reported in people who took the drug longer than directed.

Duract: A brand of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), Duract was recalled after rare cases of sever hepatitis and liver failure were reported in people who took the drug longer than directed.

Dutch colonial style:   A design that features barn-like gambrel roof, a ground-level front porch, and dormers

Duty: In negligence cases, a “duty” is an obligation to conform to a particular standard of care. A failure to so conform places the actor at risk of being liable to another to whom a duty is owed for an injury sustained by the other of which the actor’s conduct is a legal cause. See reasonable man doctrine.

Duty: In negligence cases, a “duty” is an obligation to conform to a particular standard of care. A failure to so conform places the actor at risk of being liable to another to whom a duty is owed for an injury sustained by the other of which the actor’s conduct is a legal cause. See reasonable man doctrine.

Dysarthria: A speech disorder that often affects people with cerebral palsy, caused by a weakness in the muscles that produce speech. In mild cases, there may only be a slight slurring of speech; in more severe cases, the person may depend upon a voice output system to speak.

Dysarthria: A speech disorder that often affects people with cerebral palsy, caused by a weakness in the muscles that produce speech. In mild cases, there may only be a slight slurring of speech; in more severe cases, the person may depend upon a voice output system to speak.

Dystonia: Involuntary slow, sustained muscle contractions resulting in abnormal postures and twisting motions of arms, legs, and trunk.Damages: Monetary compensation awarded/awardable to a party injured as a result of a breach of contract or a negligent act; the injury sustained due to misfeasance, negligence or breach of contract.

Dystonia: Involuntary slow, sustained muscle contractions resulting in abnormal postures and twisting motions of arms, legs, and trunk.