(redirected from Criminal defendant)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Encyclopedia.


The person defending or denying; the party against whom relief or recovery is sought in an action or suit, or the accused in a criminal case.

In every legal action, whether civil or criminal, there are two sides. The person suing is the plaintiff and the person against whom the suit is brought is the defendant. In some instances, there may be more than one plaintiff or defendant.

If an individual is being sued by his or her neighbor for Trespass, then he or she is the defendant in a civil suit. The person being accused of murder by the state in a Homicide case is the defendant in a criminal action.


n. 1) the party sued in a civil lawsuit or the party charged with a crime in a criminal prosecution. In some types of cases (such as divorce) a defendant may be called a respondent. (See: plaintiff)


noun the accused, accused litigant, accused party, charged party, party against whom a commlaint is lodged, party against whom charges are pending, party who is sued, respondent
Associated concepts: codefendant, defendant's rights, indissensable party defendant, necessary party defendant, nommnal defendant, party defendant, principal defendant, proper party defendant, third party defendants
Foreign phrases: Favorabiliores rei potius quam actores habentur.The condition of the defendant is to be favored rather than that of the plaintiff. Reus excipiendo fit actor. The defendant by his pleading may make himself a plaintiff. Melior est conditio possidentis, et rei quam actoris. The condition of the possessor and that of the defendant is better than that of the plaintiff. Habemus optimum testem, confitentem reum. We have the best witness, a confessing defendant. Melior est conditio defendentis. The position of the defendant is the better one.
See also: convict, litigant, party, respondent

DEFENDANT. A party who is sued in a personal action. Vide Demandant; Parties to Actions; Pursuer; and Com. Dig. Abatement, F; Action upon the case upon assumpsit, E, b; Bouv. Inst. Index, h.t.
     2. At common law a defendant cannot have judgment to recover a sum of money of the plaintiff. But this rule is, in some cases, altered by the act of assembly in Pennsylvania, as by the. Act of 1705, for defalcation, by which he may sue out a sci. fac. on the record of a verdict for a sum found in his favor. 6 Binn. Rep. 175. See Account 6.

References in periodicals archive ?
State, the Florida Supreme Court recently interpreted the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution to hold that a criminal defendant cannot decide for himself the manner in which he will present his criminal defense.
The question of whether a criminal defendant can refuse medication if it would make him competent has sparked a sudden interest in the courts," said Dr.
The Constitution does not grant a criminal defendant the right to appeal his conviction.
If the lawyer learns that the client has given a false name at the outset of the representation, before the lawyer has accepted representation of the criminal defendant in the case, the lawyer must decline to represent the client on the basis of the false identity unless the prospective client agrees to disclose to the court that the client is proceeding under a false name.
Mezzanatto involved a criminal defendant who, prior to settlement negotiations, waived the plea-statement Rules for impeachment purposes at the behest of the prosecutor.
1987) ("A criminal defendant is not entitled to know everything that the government investigation has unearthed when such information is not used against him at trial.
One of the key policy reasons Florida courts have cited in barring a defendant from bringing a malpractice claim is that it would be illogical and unreasonable to allow the criminal defendant the opportunity to collect from his counsel damages in a civil suit for ineffective representation when that defendant has failed in attacking his conviction on grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel.
12) In short, an attorney's representation of an indigent criminal defendant based upon a life-story fee contract could be deemed constitutionally defective if the attorney allows his or her financial interest to influence the numerous decisions he or she will make at both pretrial and during.
The consent decree also weakens the effectiveness of programs for criminal defendants who never would have been detained prior to trial.
If there are any indications that a criminal defendant is delusional, the issue of mental fitness should be occasioned by the defendant herself, her attorney, the prosecution, or the judge as soon as that information becomes known during the course of a criminal proceeding.
1) The rule is intended, among other things, to guarantee that no criminal defendant will be caught off guard by a broader reading of a statute than he anticipated; it reflects our collective "instinctive distaste against men languishing in prison unless the lawmaker has clearly said they should.
In February the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the question of whether a criminal defendant can mount such a 10th Amendment challenge.