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The ability, capability, or fitness to do something; a legal right, power, or competency to perform some act. An ability to comprehend both the nature and consequences of one's acts.

Capacity relates to soundness of mind and to an intelligent understanding and perception of one's actions. It is the power either to create or to enter into a legal relation under the same conditions or circumstances as a person of sound mind or normal intelligence would have the power to create or to enter.

A person of normal intelligence and sound mind has the capacity to dispose of his or her property by will as he or she sees fit.

A capacity defense is used in both criminal and civil actions to describe a lack of fundamental ability to be accountable for one's action that nullifies the element of intent when intent is essential to the action, thereby relieving a person of responsibility for it.

An individual under duress lacks the capacity to contract; a child under the age of seven accused of committing a crime lacks criminal capacity.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


the ability of a person to effect a legal transaction. The paradigm natural person of full age and sound mind usually has full capacity. Others face limitations from time to time and system to system, such as, for example, the young, the mentally ill and corporations.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

CAPACITY. This word, in the law sense, denotes some ability, power, qualification, or competency of persons, natural, or artificial, for the performance of civil acts, depending on their state or condition, as defined or fixed by law; as, the capacity to devise, to bequeath, to grant or convey lands; to take; or to take. and hold lands to make a contract, and the like. 2 Com. Dig. 294; Dane's Abr. h.t.
     2. The constitution requires that the president, senators, and representatives should have attained certain ages; and in the case of the senators and representatives, that out these they have no capacity to serve in these offices.
     3. All laws which regulate the capacity of persons to contract, are considered personal laws; such are the laws which relate to minority and majority; to the powers of guardians or parents, or the disabilities of coverture. The law of the domicil generally governs in cases of this kind. Burge. on Sureties, 89.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
Use of the technique of counting numbers as a predictor of slow vital capacity in hospitalized individuals.
(10) observed increased values of vital capacity, FEV1, FVC, MVV, FEV1/FVC%, PIF, PIF 75%, PIF50%, PIF25%, in exercising persons which is in correlation with our study.
The aim of this study was to find out the effect of interval aerobic exercise on forced vital capacity among non-active female students.
KARAMBELKAR, M.V., BHOLE, P.V., 1971, Effect of Yoga Training on Vital Capacity and Breath Holding Time Yoga Mimasa XIV:19-26.
Pulmonary function testing spinal cord injury: correlation with vital capacity. Paraplegia, 33, 454-457.
Forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in one second ([FEV.sub.1]), forced expiratory flow at 50 and 75 per cent of the vital capacity (FEF 50 and 75%), forced expiratory flow between 25 and 75 per cent of the vital capacity ([FEF.sub.25-75]) total lung capacity (TLC) and residual volume (RV) data were obtained using constant volume variable pressure body plethysmograph (PK Morgan, Chatham, Kent, UK).
Key Findings: At one year, decline in vital capacity was significantly less severe in those receiving NAC compared with those given placebo (relative difference: 9%, p<0.02).
Also, fluticasone led to significantly greater improvements than did montelukast in prebronchodilator FE[V.sub.1]/forced vital capacity, peak expiratory volume variability, morning peak expiratory volume, resistance of the respiratory system at 5 Hz, and area of reactance.
Training in transformational, distributed, or shared leadership methodologies has a nearly-exclusive focus on the "how" of mobilizing resources to attain organizational goals; such preparation does not seek to develop the vital capacity of leaders to determine for what to strive.
Results of lung function tests conducted 6 weeks after his first visit and at his second visit were the following: vital capacity, 3.271/3.341 (77%/74% of predicted vital capacity); and forced expiratory volume, 1 s 2.811/2.891 (79%/77% of predicted forced expiratory volume).
(3) The researchers concluded that the insertion and maintenance of the bronchoscope in the airways had no effect on pulmonary function, but the application of topical lidocaine did cause significant decreases in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FE[V.sub.1]), forced vital capacity, peak expiratory flow, and peak inspiratory flow.