bail - Security given for the release of a criminal defendant or witness from legal custody (usually in the form of money) to secure his or her appearance on the day and time appointed (also called bail bond).
bailiff - A court attendant whose duties are to keep order in the courtroom and to have custody of the jury.
bankruptcy - Refers to statutes and judicial proceedings involving persons or businesses that cannot pay their debts and seek the assistance of the court in getting a fresh start. Under the protection of the bankruptcy court, debtors may discharge their debts, perhaps by paying a portion of each debt.
bench trial - A trial heard by a judge without a jury.
bench warrant - Order issued by a judge for the arrest of an individual.
beneficiary - Someone named to receive property or benefits in a will. In a trust, a person who is to receive benefits from the trust.
bequeath - To give a gift to someone through a will.
bequests - Gifts made in a will.
binding instruction - An instruction in which a jury is told that if it finds certain conditions to be true, it must decide in favor of the plaintiff, or defendant, as the case might be.
breach of contract - A legally inexcusable failure to perform a contractual obligation.
brief - A written statement prepared by each side in a lawsuit to explain to the court its view of the facts in a case and the applicable law.
burden of proof - The standard by which a case is decided. In criminal cases, the prosecutor must prove his/her case "beyond a reasonable doubt." In civil cases, the plaintiff must prove his/her case by a "preponderance of evidence," or, in some cases, by "clear and convincing" evidence.