DE FACTO

Definition of DE FACTO in Black's Law Dictionary 4th Edition – Legal dictionary – Glossary of legal terms.

Definition of DE FACTO

In fact, in deed, actually. This phrase is used to characterize an officer, a government, a past action, or a state of affairs which must be accepted for all practical purposes, but is illegal or illegitimate. In this sense it is the contrary of de jure, which means rightful, legitimate, just, or constitutional. Thus, an officer, king, or government de facto is one who is in actual possession of the office or supreme power, but by usurpation, or without lawful title; while an officer, king, or governor de jure is one who has just claim and rightful title to the office or power, but has never had plenary possession of it, or is not in actual possession. 4 Bl.Comm. 77, 78. MacLeod v. United States, 229 U.S. 416, 33 S.Ct. 955, 57 L.Ed. 1260; Wheatley v. Consolidated Lumber Co., 167 Cal. 441, 139 P. 1057, 1059. So a wife de facto is one whose marriage is voidable by decree, as distinguished from a wife de jure, or lawful wife. 4 Kent, Comm. 36. But the term is also frequently used independently of any distinction from de jure; thus a blockade de facto is a blockade which is actually maintained, as distinguished from a mere paper blockade. 1 Kent, 44. As to de facto "Corporation," "Court," "Domicile," "Government," and "Officer," see those titles.

In old English law it means respecting or concerning the principal act of a murder, which was technically denominated factum. See Fleta, lib. 1, c. 27, § 18.

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