What Is The Legal Definition Of “Socialism?”

You might first ask why we even need a legal definition for an economic ideology, but…well, in this country we discuss communism and socialism often.

US Legal defines “socialism” as “a set of ideologies promoting an economic system in which all or most productive resources are the property of the government, in which the production and distribution of goods and services are administered primarily by the government rather than by private enterprise, and in which any remaining private production and distribution is heavily regulated by the government rather than by market processes. Central to the meaning of socialism is common ownership. This means the resources of the world being owned in common by the entire global population.”

Legal comparisons are also made from the totalitarian socialist governments in third-world countries to the socialist democratic governments more pervasive in the western developed countries. The latter countries have some of the happiest citizens in the world.

Visit website here for more information on our own “socialist” policies — which are coincidentally always popular once implemented.

Anti-socialist policies have become more common around the world as those third-world examples of totalitarian socialism show us how to take an ideology and improperly implement it. The most noteworthy were called the “Anti-Socialist Laws” and were passed in Germany after widespread support was adopted following failed attempts to assassinate a German Kaiser.

The German Social Democratic Party (or SPD) was assigned credit for the attempted assassinations, and so the laws were drafted by then-Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. They were implemented as a strong measure to reverse the popularity of the SPD through indirect means.

For example, the laws banned social-democratic group meetings and trade unions, and shuttered at least 45 different newspapers. In addition, the law banned SPD emblems.

Each of these stipulations were effectively bypassed. SPD members ran as independents instead. Media organizations simply set up shop outside of Germany in order to spread the same message to members. SPD members wore red ribbons and then red rosebuds. When people were sentenced to jail for wearing these “emblems,” a judge reversed the sentences. 

The younger generations in America have begun to embrace democratic socialist ideals more and more routinely with each new year, but laws have never outright banned socialism. More respected institutions have continued to try to debunk the classic myths — especially because most of us still believe that the ideologies of communism and socialism are interchangeable (hint: they are not). 

For example, The Washington Post recently published an article about five of the biggest myths relating to socialism. They included: the idea that socialism is only one ideology (it has many that are incompatible with one another), the idea that socialism and democracy can’t co-mingle, the sentiment that socialisms want to abolish markets or give all private property to the government, that socialism is always doomed to collapse (Scandinavian countries all meet the definition of socialism, and they are extremely successful examples), and that socialism is a magic solution to all the world’s woes (it is not).

What Is The Legal Definition Of “Fair And Equitable?”

The phrase “fair and equitable” is primarily used in two practice areas: bankruptcy law and family law. It’s also misunderstood by clients — almost more so than any other legal term on our books. Mostly, that’s because many people confuse the word “equitable” with “equality” or “equal.” And these are very different concepts. So what does fair and equitable actually mean? 

For simplicity’s sake, let’s pretend for a moment that the word “fair” is just tacked on for no reason. According to The Law Dictionary, the legal definition of “equitable” is: “just, based on fairness and not legal technicalities; refers to positive remedies (orders to do something, not money damages) employed by the courts to solve disputes or give relief.”

To be perfectly clear, the word equitable has very little to do with the word equal. For example, equal distribution of marital properties means each divorced spouse gets an equal cut of the assets. If the former couple had $1 million in a joint account, it gets sliced down the middle, and each party walks away with $500,000.

Equitable distribution works differently.

Many different factors could go into making a divorce equitable: the amount of time that the couple was married, retirement, earning potential, children, taxes, etc. Two parents with roughly the same earning potential who agree to split childcare 50/50 and each spend equal amounts of time with their children might benefit from an arrangement that is both equal and equitable simultaneously.

But this usually isn’t the case. Let’s say one parent is the breadwinner. They make a million dollars a month. The second parent makes $500 a month. An equitable solution is the solution that best serves both parents based on their needs — not what is technically fair or equal. 

For example, say you give a kid who scraped their knees a Band-Aid. You give another kid a Band-Aid after they broke their arm. This distribution of resources is not equal — but not equitable. The kid with the broken arm needs a cast.

What Is The Legal Definition Of “Unprofessional Conduct?”

“Unprofessional conduct” is a legal phrase, the meaning of which is dependent on the situation relating to its use. When you hear the phrase, you might think of a retail store worker talking back to their boss, speaking unapologetically or rudely to a customer, or maybe even showing off a tattoo they could just as easily cover up. And that might be how a retail establishment might define unprofessional conduct in its own “code” of conduct — that set of guidelines given to every employee at the time of orientation.

But legally, it means something different.

“Unprofessional conduct” is defined by Law Insider as “one or more acts of misconduct; one or more acts of immorality, moral turpitude or inappropriate behavior involving a minor; or commission of a crime involving a minor. A criminal conviction is not an essential element of determining whether or not a particular act constitutes unprofessional conduct.”

A second definition of the phrase says unprofessional conduct “means conduct unbecoming a licensee or detrimental to the best interests of the public, including conduct contrary to recognized standards of ethics of the licensee’s profession or conduct that endangers the health, safety or welfare of a patient or client.”

One example wherein the phrase might be used occurs most often in civil litigation. Let’s say a former employee for one of the aforementioned retail establishments would like to sue for wrongful termination. They say that they approached the employer about not being provided with legally mandated break periods, after which the employer fired the employee. This is called retaliation, and is illegal — which would mean that the termination was unjustified.

Now let’s say the employer fires back, saying something like: “No, we fired the employee for drawing swastikas all over the break room walls during a break.”

In this particular instance — and supposing what the employer says is true — the court would rule in favor of the defendant, and against the plaintiff, in part because the plaintiff’s unprofessional conduct is unbecoming of a professional workplace — and perhaps even endangers other employees in the process.

Another example (which made the news recently) occurred in Volusia County when fire chief Ken Fustin was fired for unprofessional conduct. He had harassed and verbally accosted another county official, Joseph Pozza — and was foolish enough to go off on the tirade in public during lunch at a Daytona Beach Cracker Barrel restaurant.

Apparently Fustin said, “You want to see unprofessional, we can step outside right now and I will show you what unprofessional looks like.”

Fortunately for our purposes, he’s done exactly that! This is a perfect example of “unprofessional conduct” that can result in a lost job or even legal action. When you threaten another person or another person feels threatened by your words, this meets both the definition of unprofessional conduct and assault. He could quite literally have been charged with a crime.

What Is The Legal Definition Of “Undue Influence?”

The legal term “undue influence” is a complex one, in part because it is so unclearly defined. The American Bar Association (ABA) has quite literally written research analyses of the term such that it remains difficult to define even to this day. The ABA has essentially determined that while a basic legal definition does exist, determining actual undue influence in relation to a court case can be more a matter of judicial interpretation than a literal one.

According to the ABA, many states define undue influence like this: “Undue influence occurs when a fiduciary or confidential relationship exists in which one person substitutes his own will for that of the influenced person’s will.” This definition is mostly relatable to probate law, a practice area which helps determine what happens to a deceased person’s assets when no will or last testament are left behind to make the dissemination of those assets easier.

The ABA also describes undue influence as a concept most often relatable to probate or seen in certain types of cases that involve petitioning for guardianship. 

A more simplistic Oxford dictionary definition defines the phrase like this: “Influence by which a person is induced to act otherwise than by their own free will or without adequate attention to the consequences.”

For example, a personal caretaker might unduly influence an elderly person experiencing dementia, amnesia, or Alzheimer’s disease in order to compel the elderly person to alter a will to favor the caretaker. A recent media example of undue influence is notable in the Netflix film I Care A Lot.

Another example of undue influence occurs when a beneficiary is suddenly excluded from a will — say, for instance, the favorite child’s inheritance suddenly vanishes and the will favors the neighbor down the street who routinely borrows a cup of sugar but holds no real relationship to the person whose will is left behind.

What Is The Legal Definition Of “Affidavit?”

An “Affidavit” is often used in court when attorneys present evidence to mount a case either for the plaintiff or against a defendant. These documents are signed by witnesses who have a connection to the case in some capacity. They are considered sworn testimony by the court, and knowingly signing an affidavit presenting incorrect or misconstrued information is tantamount to perjury, and can result in serious charges. 

There are three basic components to a written affidavit

The first component is called a commencement. This is the legal clause that prefaces the information contained later in the document, and it basically lets the signee know that their signature means that the information contained within the document is true — and that knowingly signing the document when information contained within the document is not true will result in “penalty under perjury, fine, or imprisonment” under the law.

The second component is called the attestation clause or jurat. This is the date when the signee took the oath.

The last component are the signatures of both the witness for whom the affidavit was written up and the author who wrote it up. Authenticated affidavits should always include the venue where the proceedings were carried out.

Many countries have their own versions of this document. For example, under Australia law a signed affidavit carries the same weight as unsworn testimony. Under India’s legal code, courts do not assume the right to hold affidavits as evidence. However, they can be used as evidence if a court makes such an order. Under Ireland’s law, affidavits are not held to a religious oath as in other countries, instead asking signees to make a “statement of truth.”

In the United States, an affidavit signed by someone who is currently deceased may still be used by the court as a presumption of fact. Old affidavits might be used by the court to “refresh” a material witness’s memory if the relevant events occurred too long ago. Anyone who signs an affidavit in the United States might be asked to take the witness stand should a court proceeding occur. 

Affidavits are required for a number of reasons. For example, when a person applied for social security disability insurance (SSDI), then they might require a sworn affidavit from a doctor who can legally affirm that they are indeed disabled and unable to work. Other professionals might also sign these affidavits. Military officers who are not medical doctors but who practice medicine are allowed to sign such affidavits depending on the jurisdiction. Visit website here for more information on how disability affidavits work. Laws vary by state.

One important fact about affidavits is that the acceptance of a signed and sworn affidavit by one jurisdiction does not confirm its affirmation by another jurisdiction. Sometimes, more than one affidavit attesting to the same facts might need to be signed when two jurisdictions require that information be presented in court.

What Is The Legal Definition Of “Gag Order?”

Have you ever watched a TV courtroom drama (and no, Judge Judy does not count — even though we don’t consider it “real,” it’s not a drama either) and wondered what some of the commonly uttered phrases mean? The phrase “gag order” is thrown around all the time. It’s jargon, but rarely explained to the audience. But many people who have served on juries have also heard the phrase.

The legal definition of “gag order” according to Merriam-Webster’s legal dictionary is this: “A judicial ruling barring public disclosure or discussion (as by the press) of information related to a case.”

For example, juries themselves are usually subject to a gag order. Jury selection is a process to determine a group of 12 unbiased individuals who will perform their function in court diligently, respectfully, and professionally — which means they’re also legally required to keep quiet when they go home at night. This is especially important for bigger cases that stretch days and days. 

But there are plenty of other situations in which a person might be constrained by a gag order. One recent article in the Washington Examiner shed light on many journalists’ request of Joe Biden that he lift a gag order put on federal employees by the Trump administration.

President Matthew Hall of the Society of Professional Journalists said, “These rules, exacerbated under the Trump administration, amount to extreme censorship and damage everyone’s understanding of government. They literally threaten people’s lives.”

The purpose of a gag order is to ensure a fair trial for all parties, and they are only applied in cases where a threat to this end might exist should the public receive information about the trial. In addition to juries, a gag order is most often placed upon reporters, lawyers, witnesses, and other parties who are present in court during a case hearing.

What Is The Legal Definition Of “Debt Consolidation?”

Let’s say you take out a loan to pay for that brand new car or a mortgage to buy that beautiful new home. You never thought you would be able to afford these shiny big-ticket items! …Annnd, it turns out you actually can’t. The interest rates are too high, the payments are too frequent, and when coupled with a new kid, a cold winter with high electric bills, and the Playstation 5 you shouldn’t have put on plastic, it’s all just too much to handle.

That’s where debt consolidation comes in. The legal definition of debt consolidation is simple: a debtor takes out a new loan to pay off an old one. Sounds like it makes no sense, but when you consider the rules, everything becomes easier to understand: the new loan is often offered by a company whose job it is to save a debtor from going bankrupt, and so they offer the new loan at a reduced interest rate. You get to pay off the original loan immediately, but you’re in debt purgatory for a long time as a consequence. Whoops.

Debt consolidation is often recommended to those struggling financially as one of few alternatives to bankruptcy. It’s important to realize that this strategy is not for everyone, and the company helping someone consolidate debt doesn’t actually want the debt paid off any more than the creditor who they bought it from. The point of debt consolidation from this company’s point of view is that it helps a person relax and keeps payments steady but low so that over time the debtor will pay a pretty penny.

Sometimes this means that the original plan was the best one. Large payments with a high interest rate are scary and cause stress levels to skyrocket, but they get the job done sooner than a debt consolidator would. The same is true of those “buy now, pay later” schemes — such as the popular “Afterpay.” They make money because consumers end up paying slightly more over time and feel comfortable making those small payments for big ticket items — which means they will make more of them. This can be a great deal, when used in moderation. But some people will never use it in moderation. It’s too addictive to be safe!

Other alternatives to bankruptcy include debt settlement, lifestyle changes, or selling off all significant big-ticket assets like excess unneeded land or extra vehicles where one will do just fine. Financial ruin is often just a step away — and we mean that, literally, financial ruin is at the heels of nearly half of Americans, who can’t afford a single emergency payment of $400 — and so many of these steps are band-aids designed to get a person through the worst by delaying the problem.

A debt settlement attorney might be able to lend a helping hand with bankruptcy or any of its alternatives, but regardless of how a person gets out of debt, the real trick is making enough changes in life to keep from getting in the same mess for a second time. And that means a financial consultant is another box to check when these problems arise. 

What Is The Legal Definition Of “Insanity?”

We’ve probably all joked about committing a violent act and pleading insanity when brought forth before a judge. An insanity defense has an enormous impact on how the law is applied. A person declared legally insane would not be subject to an identical set of consequences as a person who committed a crime in a clear cognitive state.

The dictionary of law defines insanity as “a mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, cannot conduct her/his affairs due to psychosis, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior. Insanity is distinguished from low intelligence or mental deficiency due to age or injury.”

Insanity is often invoked as a defense when the crimes are severe or the death penalty is an expected outcome for any other defense. It was thrust into the public’s eye once again over the past few months when former President Donald Trump spent the last few weeks of his administration’s time in the White House forcing through a number of controversial executions despite the threat of coronavirus spread or the fact that those to be executed might be insane or mentally incompetent.

The law specifically states that a person cannot be subject to capital punishment if they cannot be made aware of why they are being executed. The Supreme Court helped Trump push through the spate of executions up until his last days in office.

Before a person can be declared insane, they are usually placed into a medical care facility where they can be examined by psychiatrists. These individuals will then help a judge make a decision based on reports submitted in writing to clarify the person’s cognitive state. But the judge makes the final decision on who should be declared legally insane and why. A person declared insane is considered dangerous and is normally placed in a separate facility from other prisoners.

What Is The Legal Definition Of “Common Law?”

It might sound like common sense to define a phrase like “common law,” but legal terms can confuse anyone without a firm grasp of scope, connotation, or full meaning. And these terms are normally defined in confusing ways. For example, take Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definition of common-law: “1: Of, relating to, or based on the common law; 2: relating to or based on a common-law marriage.”

Don’t you love it when dictionaries use the word you’re trying to define in the definition for that word? It’s a wonderful cycle.

Merriam-Webster further defines common law as “the body of law developed in England primarily from judicial decisions based on custom and precedent, unwritten in statute or code, and constituting the basis of the English legal system and of the system in all of the U.S. except Louisiana.”

In other words, “common law” is literally the idea of practicing common sense and common decency in certain situations where legal precedent is understood even if unwritten. For example, let’s say we struck the laws on murder from the books today. You would still know murder is wrong, and authorities would still arrest you for committing a murder. But more importantly, common law is based on innumerable interpretations from the judicial branch and jury decisions throughout a country’s history.

But before we go any further, you need to understand that in certain countries those common laws are written down. The United States is one such country. We legalize everything, no matter how obvious a criminal act something is. We provide a set frame of consequence for anything a person might do to disrupt the fabric of our society. See? Common law can be confusing after all!

For something to be ascertained as common law, legislators and judicators usually have a long process of research and review to determine what is in a community’s best interest. This process can be done at the local or state level. If there are already statutes on the books and the law is under scrutiny for some reason, then formal review occurs and legal authorities set about finding information on the law in question.

One type of common law that is under scrutiny based on changing circumstances is a person’s liability for car accidents. Automation is advancing quickly, and it’s not crazy to think that we’ll be living in a driverless future soon enough. Who takes liability for car accidents in that future? The manufacturer? The seller? Or the person? And under which circumstances? There is not yet any legal basis for determining the answers to these questions — but there will be. And that’s the most likely time that the scrutiny will lead to changes in car-related common law. You can visit website here for more information.

Common law results in a complex — and controversial — system of law-making and legal decisions made by lower courts, appellate courts, and the Supreme Court in the United States. And many believe this system must change.

What Is The Legal Definition Of “Double Jeopardy?”

The “Double Jeopardy” defense was popularized by the popular movie of the same name, which starred Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones (and if you haven’t watched it, we highly recommend you do). The protagonist in that movie was accused of committing a murder for which she was not responsible, and decided to track down the man who framed her. Theoretically, Double Jeopardy is a legal clause that would allow her to kill him in broad daylight without any further consequences.

But would it really work?

Double Jeopardy was introduced when the Fifth Amendment was ratified. The legal definition of Double Jeopardy says that no person shall “be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.

The clause provides legal protection in four very specific situations. A person cannot be retried after a previous acquittal for the same crime. A person cannot be retried after a conviction for the same crime. A person cannot be retried after certain types of mistrials, specifically during which a judge acted in bad faith — but this is more of a technical reason that Double Jeopardy might be implemented. Lastly, a person cannot be punished more than once for the same crime.

Theoretically, let’s say that you were framed for murder, just like what happened in the movie Double Jeopardy. You are tried and incarcerated for that murder. You are then released. You track down the very much alive person you supposedly murdered, and then actually murder the guy. Would you get away with it?  

Probably not. It’s a great story, but the legal reasoning behind it is unsound. Double Jeopardy protects an individual from being retried for the same crime. The problem is this: no matter how you slice it, a murder on one day is a different crime than a murder on another day — even if the victim of the crime is the same person. The protagonist in the movie would still be tried and convicted (again).