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
ARM
See adjustable rate mortgage.
arraignment
A court appearance in which the defendant is formally charged with a crime and asked to respond by pleading guilty, not guilty or nolo contendere. Other matters often handled at the arraignment are arranging for the appointment of a lawyer to represent the defendant and the setting of bail.
arrearages
Overdue alimony or child support payments. In recent years, state laws have made it difficult to impossible to get rid of arrearages; they can't be discharged in bankruptcy, and courts usually will not retroactively cancel them. A spouse or parent who falls on tough times and is unable to make payments should request a temporary modification of the payments before the arrearages build up.
arrest
A situation in which the police detain a person in a manner that, to any reasonable person, makes it clear she is not free to leave. A person can be "under arrest" even though the police have not announced it; nor are handcuffs or physical restraint necessary. Questioning an arrested person about her involvement in or knowledge of a crime must be preceded by the Miranda warnings if the police intend to use the answers against the person in a criminal case. If the arrested person chooses to remain silent, the questioning must stop.
arrest warrant
A document issued by a judge or magistrate that authorizes the police to arrest someone. Warrants are issued when law enforcement personnel present evidence to the judge or magistrate that convinces her that it is reasonably likely that a crime has taken place and that the person to be named in the warrant is criminally responsible for that crime.
articles of incorporation
A document filed with state authorities (usually the Secretary of State or Corporations Commissioner, depending on the state) to form a corporation. As required by the general incorporation law of the state, the Articles normally include the purpose of the corporation, its principal place of business, the names of its initial directors who will control it, and the amounts and types of stock it is authorized to issue.
assault
A crime that occurs when one person tries to physically harm another in a way that makes the person under attack feel immediately threatened. Actual physical contact is not necessary; threatening gestures that would alarm any reasonable person can constitute an assault. Compare battery.
assessment benefits
See stipulated insurance.
assignee
A person to whom a property right is transferred. For example, an assignee may take over a lease from a tenant who wants to permanently move out before the lease expires. The assignee takes control of the property and assumes all the legal rights and responsibilities of the tenant, including payment of rent. However, the original tenant remains legally responsible if the assignee fails to pay the rent.
assignment
A transfer of property rights from one person to another, called the assignee.
assignment (of copyright)
The unconditional transfer of all rights contained in a copyright from the owner to another person or entity.
association
A group of people who have joined together for a common purpose. Unlike a corporation, an association is not a legal entity. The law may treat an association like a corporation, however, if it has been operating in a corporate manner -- for example, if it has a charter and shareholders.
asylum
A legal status granted to an individual who is in the United States and fears political persecution if he or she is forced to return to their home country.
at issue memorandum
A document that states that all parties to a case have been served, that the parties disagree (or are "at issue") over one or more points to be resolved at trial, and how much time the parties estimate will be required for trial.
at will employment
The right of employers to fire employees for any reason, or for no reason at all. It also gives employees the legal right to quit their jobs at any time for any reason. Despite this legal doctine, employers may not fire employees in a way that discriminates, violates public policy or conflicts with written or implied promises they make concerning the length of employment or grounds for termination.