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overt act

n. in criminal law, an action which might be innocent itself but if part of the preparation and active furtherance of a crime, can be introduced as evidence of a defendant's participation in a crime. Example: Rental of a van, purchase of explosives, obtaining a map of downtown New York City and going back and forth to the World Trade Center, could each be considered overt acts as part of the terrorist bombing of that building.

The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications