Tainted evidence

In a criminal trial, information which has been obtained by illegal means or has been traced through evidence which is acquired by illegal search and/or seizure. This evidence is called "fruit of the poisonous tree" and is not admissible in court.


To obtain or gain possession, including the receipt of a legacy from an estate, getting title to real property or stealing an object.

Tangible property

Physical articles as differentiated from "incorporeal" assets such as rights, patents, copyrights and franchises. Commonly tangible property is called "personalty."


A governmental assessment upon property value, transactions (transfers and sales), licenses granting a right and/or income is called tax. These include central and state income taxes, taxes on real property, state and/or local sales tax based on a percentage of each retail transaction, duties on imports from foreign countries, business licenses, taxes on large gifts and a state "use" tax in lieu of sales tax which is imposed on certain goods bought outside of the state.

Tax costs

A motion to contest a claim for Court costs which is submitted by a prevailing party in a lawsuit. It is called a "Motion to Tax Costs" and asks the judge to deny or reduce claimed costs. Example: a winning party claims a right to have his/her attorneys' fees and telephone bills paid by the loser, even though they are not allowable as costs under state law or the contract which was the subject of the suit. So the loser makes a "Motion to Tax Costs" to avoid paying these charges.

Tax evasion

Intentional and fraudulent attempt which is made to escape payment of taxes in whole or in part. If proved to be intentional and not just an error or difference of opinion, tax evasion can be a chargeable crime. Evasion is differentiated from attempts to use interpretation of tax laws and/or imaginative accounting to reduce the amount of payable tax.

Tax return

The form which is to be filed with a taxing authority by a taxpayer which details his/her/their income, expenses, exemptions, deductions and calculation of taxes which are chargeable to the taxpayer.

Tax sale

An auction sale of a taxpayer's property which is conducted by the government to collect unpaid taxes.

Temporary injunction

A court order which is issued for prohibiting an action by a party to a lawsuit until there has been a trial or other court action. A temporary injunction differs from a "temporary restraining order" which is a short-term, stop-gap injunction issued pending a hearing, at which time a temporary injunction may be ordered to be in force until trial. The purpose of a temporary injunction is to maintain the status quo and prevent irreparable damage or change before the legal questions are determined. After the trial the court may issue a "permanent injunction" (making the temporary injunction a lasting rule) or "dissolve" (cancel) the temporary injunction.

Temporary insanity

In a criminal prosecution, a defence by the accused that he/she was briefly insane at the time the crime was committed and thus was incapable of knowing the nature of his/her alleged criminal act. Temporary insanity is claimed as a defence whether or not the accused is mentally stable at the time of trial. One difficulty with a temporary insanity defense is the problem of proof, since any examination by psychiatrists had to be after the fact, so the only evidence must be the conduct of the accused immediately before or after the crime. It is similar to the defenses of "diminished capacity" to understand one's own actions, the so-called "Twinkie defense," the "abuse excuse," "heat of passion" and other claims of mental disturbance which raise the issue of criminal intent based on modern psychiatry and/or sociology. However, mental derangement at the time of an abrupt crime, such as a sudden attack or crime of passion, can be a valid defense or at least show lack of premeditation to reduce the degree of the crime.


The right which is used to occupy real property permanently, for a time which may terminate upon a certain event, for a specific term, for a series of periods until cancelled (such as month-to-month), or at will (which may be terminated at any time). Some tenancy is for occupancy only as in a landlord-tenant situation, or a tenancy may also be based on ownership of title to the property.

Tenancy at sufferance

A "hold-over" tenancy after a lease has expired but before the landlord has demanded that the tenant vacate the premises. During a tenancy at sufferance the tenant is bound by the terms of the lease which existed before it expired. The only difference between a "tenancy at sufferance" and a "tenancy at will" is that the latter was created by agreement.

Tenancy at will

Occupation of real property which is owned by another until such time as the landlord gives notice of termination of the tenancy, which may be given at any time. A tenancy at will is created by agreement between the tenant and the landlord, but it cannot be transferred by the tenant to someone else since the landlord controls the right to occupy.

Tenancy by the entirety

Joint ownership of title by husband and wife, in which both have the right to the entire property, and, upon the death of one, the other has title.

Tenancy in common

Title to property which is held by two or more persons, in which each has an "undivided interest" in the property and all have an equal right to use the property, even if the percentage of interests are not equal or the living spaces are different sizes. Unlike "joint tenancy," there is no "right of survivorship" if one of the tenants in common dies, and each interest may be separately sold, mortgaged or willed to another. Thus, unlike a joint tenancy interest, which passes automatically to the survivor, upon the death of a tenant in common there must be a probate of the estate of the deceased to transfer the interest (ownership) in the tenancy in common.


A person who occupies real property which is owned by another based upon an agreement between the person and the landlord/owner, almost always for rental payments.


A) To present payment to another. B) Delivery, except that the recipient has the choice not to accept the tender. However, the act of tender completes the responsibility of the person making the tender. C) To present to another person an unconditional offer to enter into a contract.


A) Old run-down urban apartment buildings with several floors which are reached by stairways. B) A term which is found in older deeds or in boiler-plate deed language which means any structure on real property.

Tentative trust

A bank account which is deposited in the name of the depositor "in trust for" someone else, which is a tentative trust until the death of the depositor since the money can be withdrawn at any time.


A) In employment contracts, particularly of public employees like school teachers or professors, a guaranteed right to a job (barring substantial inability to perform or some wrongful act) once a probationary period has passed. B) In real property, the right to possess the property.


A) A word or phrase for something, as "tenancy" is one term for "occupancy." B) In contracts or leases, a period of time, such as six years, in which a contract or lease is in force. C) In contracts, a specified condition or proviso. D) A period for which a Court sits or a legislature is in session.


Dying with a Will. It is compared to "intestacy," which is dying without a will.


It is pertaining to a Will.

Testamentary capacity

Having the mental competency to execute a Will at the time the Will was signed and witnessed. To have testamentary capacity, the author of the will must understand the nature of making a will, have a general idea of what he/she possesses, and know who are members of the immediate family or other "natural objects of his/her bounty." Inherent in that capacity is the ability to resist the pressures or domination of any person who may try to use undue influence on the distribution of the testator's estate.

Testamentary disposition

How the terms of a Will divide the testator's estate, including specific gifts to named beneficiaries.

Testamentary trust

A trust which is created by the terms of a Will. Example: "The residue of my estate shall form the corpus (body) of a trust, with the executor as trustee, for my children's health and education, which shall terminate when the last child attains the age of twenty five years, when the remaining corpus and any accumulated profits shall be divided among my then living children." A testamentary trust distinguishes from an "inter vivos" or "living" trust, which comes into being during the lifetime of the creator of the trust (called trustor, settlor or donor), usually from the time the declaration of trust is signed.


A person who has written a Will before his/her death.


Female form of testator, although distinguishing between genders is falling out of fashion.


To give oral evidence under oath in answer to questions which are posed by advocates either at trial or at a deposition (testimony under oath outside of court), with the opportunity for opposing attorneys to cross-examine the witness in regard to answers given.


Oral evidence which is given under oath by a witness in answer to questions posed by attorneys at trial or at a deposition.


The generic term which is used for all crimes in which a person intentionally and fraudulently takes personal property of another without permission or consent and with the intent to convert it to the taker's use. Theft is synonymous with "larceny." Although robbery (taking by force), burglary (taken by entering unlawfully) and embezzlement (stealing from an employer) are all commonly thought of as theft, they are distinguished by the means and methods used and are separately designated as those types of crimes in criminal charges and statutory punishments.

Third party

A person who is not a party to a contract or a transaction, but has an involvement. The third party normally has no legal rights in the matter, unless the contract was made for the third party's benefit.

Third-party beneficiary

A person who is not a party to a contract but has legal rights to enforce the contract or share in proceeds because the contract was made for the third party's benefit.

Thirty-day notice

A notice which is issued by a landlord to a tenant on a month-to-month tenancy or a holdover tenant to leave the premises within thirty days. Such notice does not have to state any reason and is not based on failure to pay rent. The landlord's service of the notice and the tenant's failure to vacate at the end of thirty days provide the basis for a lawsuit for unlawful detainer (eviction) and a court judgment ordering the tenant to leave. While this is a common notice period, it does not apply in all states or all circumstances, such as local rent control ordinances.

Three-day notice

A notice to pay delinquent rent or quit the premises given by a landlord to a tenant, which gives the tenant three days to pay or get out. Service of the notice and failure of the tenant to pay or vacate within three days provide the basis for a lawsuit for unlawful detainer (eviction) for unpaid rent and a court judgment ordering the tenant to leave.

Tide lands

Land between the high and low tides, which is uncovered each day by tidal action. This land belongs to the owner of the land which fronts on the sea at that point.

Time is of the essence

A phrase which is often used in contracts which in effect says: the specified time and dates in this agreement are vital and thus mandatory, and "we mean it." Therefore any delay-reasonable or not, slight or not-will be grounds for cancelling the agreement.

Time served

The period which is spent by an accused in jail, often while awaiting bail or awaiting trial. Often a judge will give a defendant "credit for time served," particularly when sentencing for misdemeanors.


Within the time which required by statute, Court rules or contract. Example: a notice of appeal is required to be filed within sixty days of the entry of judgment, so a notice filed on the sixty first day is not "timely."


A) The name for one's position in a business or organization, such as president, general manager, mayor, governor, managing director. B) The name for a legal case, such as Amit vs Sonia, which is part of the "caption" of the case. C) Ownership of real property or personal property, which stands against the right of anyone else to claim the property. In real property, title is evidenced by a deed, judgment of distribution from an estate or other appropriate document recorded in the public records of the county. Title to personal property is generally shown by possession, particularly when no proof or strong evidence exists showing that the property belongs to another or that it has been stolen or known to be lost by another.

Title abstract

A history of the chain of title.

Title insurance

A policy which is issued by an insurance company guaranteeing that the title to a parcel of real property is clear and properly in the name of the title owner and that the owner has the right to deed the property to another.

Title report

The written analysis of the status of title to real property, including a property description, names of titleholders and how title is held (joint tenancy, etc.), tax rate, encumbrances (mortgages, deeds of trusts, recorded judgments), and real property taxes due. A title report made when the report is ordered is called a "preliminary report," or a "prelim," and at time of recording an up-to-date report is issued which is the final title report. The history of the title is called an "abstract." A title report is prepared by a title company, an abstractor, an attorney or an escrow company, depending on local practice. Normally a title report's accuracy is insured by title insurance which will require the insurance company to either correct any error or pay damages resulting from a "cloud on title," encumbrance or title flaw in the title which was not reported.

Title search

The examination of country records for the property's title history by a title company, an abstractor, attorney or escrow officer to determine the "chain of title" and the current status of title, including owner, legal description, easements, property taxes due, encumbrances (mortgages or deeds of trust), long-term leases, judgments. When a title search is completed, a "preliminary report" on title will be issued by the searcher. On the recording date of any new transfer or encumbrance, an updated "final title report" will be issued which will make it possible to obtain title insurance guaranteeing against any problems with the title. Sometimes the title search will turn up some "cloud on the title" which reveals something is wrong, such as a break in the chain of title, inaccurate property description in a previous deed or some old secured loan which has not been released. Such clouds can be a reason to cancel a contract for purchase of the real property.


A) A charge to pass over land, use a toll road or turnpike, cross a bridge or take passage on a ferry. B) To delay, suspend or hold off the effect of a statute.


A rare agreement which is made among several persons who agree that each will invest in an annuity and the last to die will receive the remaining assets and profits.

Tools of trade

The equipment which a person requires in order to pursue his occupation, which is exempt from claims of creditors. They are also generally exempt from attachment by judgment creditors since it is important for a person to earn an income to support the family and pay creditors.


Wrong, a civil wrong or wrongful act, whether intentional or accidental, from which injury occurs to another. Torts include all negligence cases as well as intentional wrongs which result in harm. Some intentional torts may also be crimes, such as assault, battery, wrongful death, fraud, conversion (a euphemism for theft) and trespass on property and form the basis for a lawsuit for damages by the injured party. Defamation, including intentionally telling harmful untruths about another-either by print or broadcast (libel) or orally (slander)-is a tort and used to be a crime as well.

Tort act

An act which, under certain conditions, waives governmental immunity and allows lawsuits by people who claim they have been harmed by wrongful acts, including negligence, by government agencies or their employees. These acts also establish the procedure by which such claims are made.


A person who commits a tort (civil wrong), either intentionally or through negligence is called tortfeasor.


An act which is a tort (civil wrong).


A) To exchange one thing for another, which includes money for goods, goods for goods and favors for goods or money. B) A business or occupation for profit, particularly in wholesale sales or requiring special mechanical skill or retail.

Trade fixture

A piece of equipment on or attached to the real estate which is used in a trade or business. Trade fixtures distinguishes from other fixtures in that they may be removed from the real estate at the end of the tenancy of the business, while ordinary fixtures attached to the real estate become part of the real estate. The business tenant must compensate the owner for any damages due to removal of trade fixtures or repair such damage.

Trade name

A name of a business or one of its products which, by use of the name and public reputation, identifies the product as that of the business. A trade name belongs to the first business to use it, and the identification and reputation give it value and the right to protect the trade name against its use by others.

Trade secret

A method, plan, process, formula or other information unique to a manufacturer, which gives it an advantage over competitors. Thus the trade secret has value and may be protected by a Court-ordered injunction against use or revelation of trade secrets by an employee, former employee or someone who comes into possession of the trade secret. The employer may seek damages against such a person for revealing the secret. In addition, the owner of a trade secret involved in a lawsuit may request a "protective order" from the judge to prohibit revelation of a trade secret or a sealing of the record in the case where references to the trade secret are made. A trade secret is a business process and not a patentable invention.


A distinctive design, emblem, logo, picture or wording which is affixed to goods for sale to identify the manufacturer as the source of the product. Words that merely name the maker (but without particular lettering) or a generic name for the product are not trademarks. Use of another's trademark or one that is confusingly similar is infringement and the basis for a civil suit for damages for unfair competition and/or a petition for an injunction against the use of the infringing trademark.


A person who deals in property as an occupation, making several purchases and sales within a year as differed from a few sales of assets which are held for investment. Thus a trader will lose the right to defer capital gains by "exchanging" for another property.


The written record of all proceedings, including testimony, in a trial, hearing or deposition (out-of-court testimony under oath).


A) Passage of title to property from the owner to another person. B) A piece of paper which is given to allow a person or shipment to continue travel. B) The movement of property from one person or entity to another.

Transfer agent

A person or company which is retained by a corporation to process transfers and registration of shares of stock. The stock certificates do not always include the name and address of the current transfer agent, but the information can be obtained from the corporation or a stockbroker.

Transfer in contemplation of death

Giving property under the belief of the giver that he/she is about to die or has a terminal illness. However, health recovery may result in cancellation of the gift. This is also called a "gift causa mortis."

Transferred intent

In both criminal and tort (civil wrong) law, when an intent to cause harm to one person results in harm to another person instead of the intended target, the law transfers the intent to the actual harm.


The crime of betraying one's country. Treason can include revealing to an antagonistic country secrets such as the design of a bomber being built by a private company for the Defense Department. Treason may include "espionage" (spying for a foreign power or doing damage to the operation of the government) but is separate and worse than "sedition," which involves a conspiracy to upset the operation of the government.


A pact which is made between nations


Entering into another person's property without permission of the owner or his/her agent and without lawful authority and causing any damage, no matter how slight. Any interference with the owner's (or a legal tenant's) use of the property is a sufficient showing of damage and is a civil wrong (tort) sufficient to form the basis for a lawsuit against the trespasser by the owner or a tenant using the property. Trespass includes a roof which overhangs a neighbor's property, swinging the boom of a crane with loads of building materials over another's property, erecting a fence on another's property or dumping debris on another's real estate. In addition to damages, a Court may grant an injunction prohibiting any further continuing, repeated or permanent trespass. Trespass for an illegal purpose is a crime.


The examination of facts and law which are presided over by a judge or other magistrate, such as a commissioner or judge pro tem with authority to hear the matter (jurisdiction). A trial begins with the calling of the parties to come and be heard and selection of a jury if one has been requested. Each party is entitled to an opening statement by his/her attorney (or the party if he/she is representing himself/herself), limited to an outline of what each side intends to prove (the defense may withhold the opening statement until the defense is ready to present evidence), followed by the presentation of evidence first by the plaintiff (in a civil case) or prosecution (in a criminal case), followed by the defense evidence, and then by rebuttal evidence by the plaintiff or prosecution to respond to the defense. At the conclusion of all evidence each attorney (plaintiff or prosecution first) can make a final argument which can include opinion and comment on evidence and legal questions. If it is a jury trial, the judge will give the jury a series of instructions as to the law of the case, based on "jury instructions" which is submitted by the attorneys and approved, rejected, modified and/or added to by the judge. Then the jury retires to the jury room, chooses a foreperson and decides the factual questions. If there is no jury, the judge will determine legal issues and decide factual questions and render (give) a judgment. A jury will judge the factual issues and decide the verdict based on the law as given in the instructions by the judge. Final verdict or judgment usually concludes the trial, although in some criminal cases a further trial will be held to determine "special circumstances" or whether the death penalty should be imposed. Throughout a trial there may be various motions on legal issues, some of which may be argued in the judge's chambers. In most criminal cases the exact punishment will be determined by the judge at a hearing which is held at a later time.

Trial court

The Court which holds the original trial, as differs from a appeals court.

Trial de novo

Form of appeal in which the Court of appeals holds a trial as if no prior trial had been conducted. A trial de novo is common on appeals from small claims court judgments.


Any court, judicial body or board which has quasi-judicial functions, such as a public utilities board which sets rates or a planning commission which can allow variances from zoning regulations.

Trier of fact

The judge or jury who is authorised for deciding factual issues in a trial. If there is no jury the judge is the trier of fact as well as the trier of the law. In administrative hearings, an administrative law judge, a board, commission or referee may be the trier of fact.

Triple net lease

A lease in which the lessee's rent includes a share of real property taxes, insurance and maintenance as well as the basic rent. A "triple-net-lease" is standard in leases of commercial property in shopping centers and malls.

True bill

The written decision of a Grand Jury which is signed by the Grand Jury foreperson that it has heard sufficient evidence from the prosecution to believe that an accused person probably committed a crime and should be indicted. Thus, the indictment is sent to the court.


An entity which is created to hold assets for the benefit of certain persons or entities, with a trustee managing the trust. Most trusts are established by the persons who execute a written declaration of trust which establishes the trust and spells out the terms and conditions upon which it will be conducted. The declaration also names the original trustee or trustees, successor trustees or means to choose future trustees. The assets of the trust are usually given to the trust by the creators, although assets may be added by others. During the life of the trust, profits and, sometimes, a portion of the principal (called "corpus") may be distributed to the beneficiaries, and at some time in the future, the remaining assets will be distributed to beneficiaries. A trust may take the place of a will and avoid probate (management of an estate with court supervision) by providing for distribution of all assets originally owned by the trustors or settlors upon their death. There are numerous types of trusts, including "revocable trusts" created to handle the trustors' assets (with the trustor acting as initial trustee), often called a "living trust" or "inter vivos trust" which only becomes irrevocable on the death of the first trustor; "irrevocable trust," which cannot be changed at any time; "charitable remainder unitrust," which provides for eventual guaranteed distribution of the corpus (assets) to charity, thus gaining a substantial tax benefit. There are also court-decreed "constructive" and "resulting" trusts over property held by someone for its owner. A "testamentary trust" can be created by a will to manage assets given to beneficiaries.

Trust deed

Another name for a deed of trust, in which title is transferred to a trustee to protect the lender (beneficiary) until the loan is paid back.

Trust fund

The principal of a trust, which is made up of its assets and, sometimes, accumulated profits.


A person or entity who holds the assets of a trustee for the benefit of the beneficiaries and manages the trust and its assets under the terms of the trust which is stated in the declaration of trust which created it. In many "living trusts" the creator of the trust (trustor, settlor) names himself/herself (or themselves) as the original trustee who will manage the trust until his/her death when it is taken over by a successor trustee. In some trusts, such as a "charitable remainder unitrust," the trustee must be independent and thus cannot be the creator of the trust. If a trustee has title to property, he/she/it holds title only for the benefit of the trust and its beneficiaries.


The creator of a trust, who is also called a "settlor" or "donor".

Turn states' evidence

For a person who is accused of a crime to decide to give the prosecutor evidence about the crime, including facts about other participants in the crime in return for lenient treatment, a plea bargain and/or a recommendation of a light sentence.