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The voluntary surrender of a known right; conduct supporting an inference that a particular right has been relinquished.
The term waiver is used in many legal contexts. A waiver is essentially a unilateral act of one person that results in the surrender of a legal right. The legal right may be constitutional, statutory, or contractual, but the key issue for a court reviewing a claim of waiver is whether the person voluntarily gave up the right. If voluntarily surrendered, it is considered an express waiver.
In criminal law the privilege against self-incrimination is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court, in Miranda v. Arizona 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694 (1966), held that the police must inform arrested persons that they need not answer questions and that they may have an attorney present during questioning. These requirements are known as the Miranda warning. A criminal defendant may waive the right to remain silent and make a confession, but the law enforcement officials must demonstrate to the court that the waiver was the product of a free and deliberate choice rather than a decision based on intimidation, coercion, or deception. They must also convince the court that the defendant was fully aware of the rights being abandoned and the consequences that would result from the abandonment. Based on the totality of these circumstances, a court may conclude that the defendant waived his Miranda rights.
A waiver may be shown by a person's actions. For example, a criminal defendant waives the privilege against self-incrimination merely by going on the witness stand. Such an action is called an implied waiver.
In insurance law waiver is used in numerous contexts. For example, under the doctrine of waiver, if the insurer has knowledge of facts that would bar its primary liability for a policy it has written but proceeds to treat the policy as being in force, it will not be allowed to plead such facts in court to avoid its primary liability.
A waiver of premium clause is a provision in an insurance policy that permits the waiver of premium payments upon the disability of the insured. Commonly such waivers take effect only after a certain time of disability.
Various waiver provisions are inserted into contracts. The parties may agree to surrender a substantive right granted by statute, such as a limitation on the amount of property that may be exempted from debt collection, or a procedural right that requires a certain number of days notice before an action can be taken.