The opposite of charge; hence to release; liberate; annul; unburden; disincumber. In the law of contracts. To cancel or unloose the obligation of a contract
; to make an agreement or contract null and inoperative. As a noun, the word means the act or instrument by which the binding force of a contract is terminated, irrespective of whether the contract is carried out to the full extent contemplated (in which case the discharge is the result of performance) or is broken off before complete execution. Cort v. Railway Co.., 17 Q. B. 145; Com. v. Talbot, 2 Allen (Mass.) 162; Rivers v. Blom, 163 Mo. 442, 63 S. W. 812.
Discharge is a generic term; its principal species are rescission, release, accord and satisfaction
, performance, judgment, composition, bankruptcy, merger, (q. vt) Leake, Cont. 413.
As applied to demands, claims, rights of action, incumbrances, etc., to discharge the debt or claim ls to extinguish it, to annul Its obligatory force, to satisfy It. And here also the term is generic; thus a debt, a mortgage, a legacy, may be discharged by payment or performance, or by any act short of that, lawful in itself, which the creditor accepts as sufficient. Blackwood v. Brown, 29 Mich. 484; Rangely v. Spring, 28 Me. 151.
To discharge a person is to liberate him from the binding force of an obligation, debt, or claim. Discharge by operation of law
is where the discharge takes place, whether it was intended by the parties or not; thus, if a creditor appoints his debtor his executor, the debt is discharged by operation of law, because the executor cannot have an action against himself. Co. Litt 264b, note 1; Williams, Ex'rs, 1216; Chit Cont. 714.
In civil practice. To discharge a rule, an order, an injunction, a certificate, process of execution, or in general any proceeding in a court, Is to cancel or annul it, or to revoke it, or to refuse to confirm its original provisional force. Nichols v. Chittenden, 14 Colo. App. 49, 59 Pac. 954.
To discharge a jury Is to relieve them from any further consideration of a cause. This Is done when the continuance of the trial ls, by any cause, rendered impossible; also when the jury, after deliberation, cannot agree on a verdict In equity practice
. In the process of accounting before a master in chancery
, the discharge is a statement of expenses and counter-claims brought in and filed, by way of set-off, by the accounting defendant; which follows the charge in order. In criminal practice. The act by which a person in confinement, held on an accusation of some crime or misdemeanor, is set at liberty. The writing containing the order for his being so set at liberty is also called a "discharge." Morgan v. Hughes, 2 Term, 231; State v. Garthwaite, 23 N. J. Law, 143; Ex parte
Paris, 18 Fed. Cas. 1104.
In bankruptcy practice. The discharge of the bankrupt is the step which regularly follows the adjudication of bankruptcy
and the administration of his estate. By it he is released from the obligation of all his debts which were or might be proved in the proceedings, so that they are no longer a charge upon him, and so that he may thereafter engage in business and acquire property without its being liable for the satisfaction of such former debts. Southern L. & T. Co. v. Benbow (D. C.) 96 Fed. 528; In re Adler, 103 Fed. 444; Colton v. Depew, 59 N. J. Eq. 126, 44 Atl. 662.
In maritime law
. The unlading or unllivery of a cargo from a vessel. The Bird of Paradise v. Heyneman, 5 Wall. 557, 18 In Ed. 662; Kimball v. Kimball, 14 Fed. Cas. 486; Certain Logs of Mahogany, 5 Fed. Cas. 374.
In military law
. The release or dismissal of a soldier, sailor, or marine, from further military service, either at the expiration of his term of enlistment, or previous thereto on special application therefor, or as a punishment. An "honorable" discharge is one granted at the end of an enlistment and accompanied by an official certificate of good conduct during the service. A "dishonorable" discharge is a dismissal from the service for bad conduct or as a punishment imposed by sentence of a court-martial for offenses against the military law. There is also in occasional use a form of "discharge without honor," which implies censure, but is not in itself a punishment. See Rev. St. U. S. §§ 1284, 1342, 1426 (U. S. Comp. St. 1901, pp. 913, 944, 1010); Williams v. U. S., 137 U. S. 113
, 11 Sup. Ct 43, 34 L. Ed. 590
; U. S. v. Sweet, 189 U. S. 471
, 23 Sup. Ch 638, 47 L. Ed. 907