The terms and definitions on this page are relevant to criminal cases in the State of Michigan, United States of America, unless noted otherwise. Criminal laws and procedures in other states and countries may be very different.

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The legal system can be filled with confusing phrases and terms. This list should help you to understand that system a little better.

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Emancipation [1968 PA 293; MCL 722.1 et seq]

  • Termination of the rights of the parents to the custody, control, services and earnings of a minor.
  • Rights and Responsibilities of Emancipated Minors: to enter enforceable contracts; to sue or be sued; to earn a living and retain earnings; to authorize medical, dental or medical care; to marry; to act autonomously in all business relationships; to apply for a driver's license and other state licenses; to apply for welfare; to make decisions and give authority in caring for a minor child; to make a will.
  • Emancipation "by operation of law": occurs when the minor (a) turns 18 years old, (b) is validly married, or (c) is on active military duty or is in police custody and the parent's consent is not available.
  • Emancipation "by order of the court": A minor who is 16 or 17 years old can petition the Circuit Court's Family Division to seek emancipation, but must demonstrate that he/she can manage his/her financial and social affairs (including but not limited to proof of employment or other means of support, and housing), and attach affidavits from a physician, psychologist, therapist, nurse, clergy, school administrator, school counselor, teacher, law enforcement officer, duly regulated child care provider, or certified social worker with personal knowledge of the minor's circumstances, and a belief that emancipation is in the minor's best interests. Receipt of General Assistance or ADC-F is not considered qualified "other means of support", and cannot be offered as proof of self-support by the minor. The minor must also prove that the parent/guardian either does not object to emancipation, or is not supporting the minor. The court must hold a hearing on the petition and determine (by a preponderance of the evidence) that the minor has met all of the legal requirements for emancipation, understands the rights and responsibilities of emancipation, and has shown that emancipation is in his/her best interest.
  • An emancipation obtained by fraud is voidable. Voiding such an order does not affect an obligation, responsibility, right, or interest that arose during the period of time the order was in effect.
  • The minor or a parent or guardian of the minor may appeal to the Court of Appeals the Family Court's grant or denial of an emancipation petition.
  • Approved SCAO forms for emancipation cases (including the petition) can be downloaded at courts.michigan.gov/scao/courtforms/emancipation/emindex.htm.
  • The Prosecuting Attorney has no official role in an emancipation petition hearing.

Embezzlement [MCL 750.174]

  • The core of this crime is a violation of trust: the agent (e.g., employee) was entrusted with the principal's (e.g., employer) property, acquired the principal's property through that relationship of trust, and dishonestly disposed of/took/hid/converted the property to his own use.
  • On January 1, 1999, Michigan doubled the levels of Embezzlement to:
  • Under $200 - Misdemeanor - up to 93 days and/or $500, or 3 times amount embezzled, whichever is greater
  • At least $200 but less than $1,000 (or repeat offender of above) - Misdemeanor - up to 1 year and/or $2,000, or 3 times amount embezzled, whichever is greater
  • At least $1,000 but less than $20,000 (or repeat offender of above) - Felony - up to 5 years and/or $10,000, or 3 times amount embezzled, whichever is greater
  • $20,000 or more (or repeat offender of above) - Felony - up to 10 years and/or $15,000, or 3 times amount embezzled, whichever is greater

En Banc

  • "In the bench" or "full bench." Refers to appellate court sessions with the entire membership of a court participating rather than the usual quorum. The Michigan Court of Appeals usually sit in panels of three judges, but may expand to a larger number in certain cases. They are then said to be sitting en banc (pronounced "on bonk").


  • Entrapment occurs when police engage in impermissible conduct that would induce an otherwise law-abiding person to commit a crime in similar circumstances, or when police engage in conduct so reprehensible that it cannot be tolerated by the court. Entrapment does not occur if the defendant has the propensity to commit the crime, and the police conduct only gives the defendant the opportunity to commit the crime.

 Ethnic Intimidation (MCL 750.147b)

  • Malicious and intentional intimidation or harassment of another person because of that person's race, color, religion, gender, or national origin. This conduct must also (a) cause physical contact with another person, (b) damage, destroy, or deface real or personal property, or (c) threaten to do an act described in (a) or (b) if there is reasonable cause to believe that such an act will occur.
  • Penalty: Felony - up to 2 years &/or fines up to $5,000.
  • Regardless of the existence or outcome of any criminal prosecution, a person who suffers injury to his/her person or damage to his/her property as a result of ethnic intimidation may sue the person who committed the offense to secure an injunction, actual damages, including damages for emotional distress, or other appropriate relief. A plaintiff may recover treble damages or $2,000, whichever is greater.


  • Information presented in testimony or documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other. [See also direct evidence and circumstantial evidence.]

Exclusionary Rule

  • A court-made rule preventing illegally-obtained evidence from being used by the government in its case-in-chief against a criminal defendant. The rule is derived from the 4th and 5th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.


  • Latin that means "by or for one party." Refers to situations in which only one party (and not the adversary) appears before a judge. Such meetings are often forbidden.

Ex-Parte Order

  • An order entered without giving the party affected by the order an opportunity to be heard in court before the order is issued. An emergency order used when one party could be irreparably harmed by waiting for a hearing date. The orders are generally short-term, and hearings are scheduled soon after the order is entered to give the other party a chance to be heard.

Expungement [ADULTS: MCL 780.621, et. seq.; JUVENILES: MCL 712A.18e]

  • A process where a conviction may be set aside.

Extradite / Extradition [1937 PA 144; MCL 780.1 et seq]

  • The formal process of delivering a person found in one state to authorities in another state where that person has been accused or convicted of a crime.
  • See the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act.