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Glossary of Legal Terms Index


Glossary of Legal terms – M

Magistrate: A judge with limited authority ie, justice of the peace or a judge who sits in a local court.

Maintenance: Financial support between parties after a breakdown of a marriage or relationship.

Maintenance Levy: An imposed levy covering the incurred expenses of maintenance on a block of townhouses or units.

Malice: Deliberate intent to cause death, injury or harm or to do wrong.

Malpractice: The delivery of substandard services or care by a lawyer, doctor, dentist, accountant or other professional.

Mandamus: Latin meaning ‘we command’

Mandatory: Meaning compulsory, obligoatory or required.

Manslaughter: Unlawful killing of a human but without malice. It is ‘voluntary’ if commited with intent. Involuntary if commited unintentionally.

Marital property: Most of the property accumulated by spouses during a marriage.

Mayhem: Crime of disfiguring, maiming or disablin someone. Malicious injury to a person.

Mechanic’s Lien: A legal claim placed on real estate by a person/s who is/are owed money for labour, services or supplies contributed to the property for the purpose of improving it. Typical lien claimants are general contractors, subcontractors and suppliers of building materials. A mechanics’ lien claimant may sue to have the real estate sold at auction and recover the debt from the proceeds. Because property with a lien on it cannot be easily sold until the lien is paid off, owners have a great incentive to pay their bills.

Mediate: To act as a go between to help settle a dispute.

Memorandum: An informal written document.

Mens rea: The mental component of criminal liability.

Minor: A person who is under 18 years old.

Miranda warning: A warning that the police must give to a suspect before conducting an interrogation, including the right to remain silent, the right to have an attorney present, the right to a court appointed attorney, and the fact that any statements made by the suspect can be used against him in court.

Misdemeanor: A crime, less serious than a felony, punishable usually by a fine or short term imprisonment.

Misfeasance: Doing something legal but in an improper way.

Misrepresentation: A false or incorrect statement whether used deliberately to mislead or made innocently out of ignorance.

Mistrial: A trial which ends prematurely and without any judgment, due to either a mistake that jeopardizes a party’s right to a fair trial or to a jury that can’t agree on a verdict (a hung jury) If a judge declares a mistrial in a civil case, he or she will direct that the case be set for a new trial at a future date. Mistrials in criminal cases can result in a retrial, a plea bargain or a dismissal of the charges.

Mitigating circumstances: Events or facts which though don’t justify actions can reduce the blame for those actions.

Mortgage: A loan in which the borrower puts up the title to real estate as security for a loan. If the borrower doesn’t pay back the debt on time, the lender has the option to foreclose on the real estate and have it sold to pay off the loan.

Mortgagee: The lender in a mortgage agreement.

Mortgagor: The borrower in a mortgage agreement.

Motion: A request put to a judge to make a decision.

Murder: Intentionally and maliciously killing someone.