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
minor
In most states, any person under 18 years of age. All minors must be under the care of a competent adult (parent or guardian) unless they are "emancipated"--in the military, married or living independently with court permission. Property left to a minor must be handled by an adult until the minor becomes an adult under the laws of the state where he or she lives.
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 by no more than one year in jail. Petty theft (of articles worth less than a certain amount), first-time drunk driving and leaving the scene of an accident are all common misdemeanors.
misfeasance
Performing a legal action in an improper way. This term is frequently used when a professional or public official does his job in a way that is not technically illegal, but is nevertheless mistaken or wrong. Here are some examples of misfeasance in a professional context: a lawyer who is mistaken about a deadline and files an important legal document too late, an accountant who makes unintentional errors on a client's tax return or a doctor who writes a prescription and accidentally includes the wrong dosage. Compare malfeasance.
misrepresentation
A lie by one spouse before marriage that provides grounds for an annulment. For example, if a spouse failed to mention that he was still married or was incapable of having children, he has misrepresented himself.
mistrial
A trial that ends prematurely and without a judgment, due either to 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.
misunderstanding
A mistake by both spouses in a marriage that can serve as grounds for an annulment. For example, if one spouse went into the marriage wanting children while the other did not, they have a misunderstanding that will be judged serious enough for a court to terminate the marriage.
MLS
See Multiple Listing Service.
month-to-month tenancy
A rental agreement that provides for a one-month tenancy that is automatically renewed each month unless either tenant or landlord gives the other the proper amount of written notice (usually 30 days) to terminate the agreement. Some landlords prefer to use month-to-month tenancies because it gives them the right to raise the rent after giving proper notice. This type of rental also provides a landlord with an easy way to get rid of troublesome tenants, because in most states month-to-month tenancies can be terminated for any reason.
moral rights
In copyright law, rights guaranteed authors by the Berne Convention that are considered personal to the author and that cannot therefore be bought, sold or transferred. Moral rights include the right to proclaim authorship of a work, disclaim authorship of a work and object to any modification or use of the work that would be injurious to the author's reputation. Moral rights are not recognized as such by U.S. Copyright law. The U.S. Copyright Office and the courts take the position that U.S. laws adequately protect artists under individual statutes. For example, Section 106 of the Copyright Act provides that the creator of a work of visual art can control whether her name is on the art and object if the integrity of the work is threatened, two items that fall under the traditional moral rights doctrine. It can be argued, however, that U.S. laws do not entirely protect authors from violations of moral rights. For instance, colorization of films is not addressed by U.S. law, nor is the removal or alteration of certain murals.
mortality charge
A monthly deduction from a universal life insurance policy that increases as the policyholder ages.
mortgage
A loan in which the borrower puts up the title to real estate as security (collateral) for a loan. If the borrower doesn't pay back the debt on time, the lender can foreclose on the real estate and have it sold to pay off the loan.
motion
During a lawsuit, a request to the judge for a decision--called an order or ruling--to resolve procedural or other issues that come up during litigation. For example, after receiving hundreds of irrelevant interrogatories, a party might file a motion asking that the other side be ordered to stop engaging in unduly burdensome discovery. A motion can be made before, during or after trial. Typically, one party submits a written motion to the court, at which point the other party has the opportunity to file a written response. The court then often schedules a hearing at which each side delivers a short oral argument. The court then approves or denies the motion. Most motions cannot be appealed until the case is over.
motion for summary judgment
See summary judgment.
motion in limine
A request submitted to the court before trial in an attempt to exclude evidence from the proceedings. A motion in limine is usually made by a party when simply the mention of the evidence would prejudice the jury against that party, even if the judge later instructed the jury to disregard the evidence. For example, if a defendant in a criminal trial were questioned and confessed to the crime without having been read his Miranda rights, his lawyer would file a motion in limine to keep evidence of the confession out of the trial.