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Glossary


Immunity
Grant by the court, which assures someone will not face prosecution in return for providing criminal evidence.
Impeachment of a witness
An attack on the credibility (believability) of a witness, through evidence introduced for that purpose.
Implied consent
Requirement to take a chemical test when arrested for driving under the influence.
In camera
In chambers, or in private. A hearing in camera takes place in the judge’s office outside of the presence of the jury and the public.
In forma pauperis
In the manner of a pauper. Permission given to a person to sue without payment of court fees on claim of indigence or poverty.
Inadmissible
That which, under the rules of evidence, cannot be admitted or received as evidence.
Incarcerate
To confine in jail.
In-custody arraignments (jail cases)
Arrests and filed cases going to court in which there has not been a release on bond or by other means.
Independent executor
A special kind of executor, permitted by the laws of certain states, who perfoms 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 formal charging document issued by a grand jury to the court, that the named person committed a specific offense.
Indigent
Needy or improverished. A defendant who can demonstrate his/her indigence to the court may be assigned a court-appointed attorney at public expense.
Information
A formal charging document issued by the State Attorney, that the named person committed a specific offense.
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 beneficiaty pays this tax.
Initial Appearance
In criminal law, the hearing at which a judge determines whether there is sufficient evidence against a person charged with a crime to hold him/her for trial. The Constitution bans secret accusations, so initial appearances are public unless the defendant asks otherwise; the accused must be present, though he/she unually does not offer evidence. Also called first appearance.
Initial proceedings
The first court appearance of a defendant on a charge.
Injunction
Writ or order by a court prohibiting a specific action from being carried out by a person or group. A preliminary injunction is granted provisionally, until a full hearing can be held to determine if it should be made permanent.
Instructions
Judge’s explanation to the jury before it begins deliberations of the questions it must answer and the applicable law governing the case. Also called charge to the jury.
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.
Inter vivos gift
A gift made during the giver’s life.
Inter vivos trust
Another name for living trust.
Interlocutory
Provisional; not final. An interlocutory order or an interlocutory appeal concerns only a part of the issues reaised in a lawsuit.
Interrogatories
Written questions asked by one party in a lawsuit for which the opposing party must provide written answers.
Intervention
An action by which a third person who may be affected by a lawsuit is permitted to become a party to the suit. Differs from the process of becoming an amicus curiae.
Intestacy laws
See descent and distrubition statutes.
Intestate
Dying without having a will.
Intestate succession
The process by which the property of a person who has died without a will passes on to others according to the state’s descent and distribution statutes. If someone dies without a will, and the court uses the state’s intestate succession laws, an heir who receives some of the deceased’ s property is an intestate heir.
Invoke the rule
Separation and exclusion of witnesses from the courtroom.
Irrevocable trust
A trust that, once set up, the grantor may not revoke.
Issue
1. The disputed point in a disagreement between parties in a lawsuit. 2. To send out officially, as in to issue an order.