(redirected from Defendants)
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 ?
According to the plaintiff's motion, the defendants withheld more than 190,000 documents produced on the eve of the trial in Ruth to "obstruct justice" and deny the plaintiffs in Presler a fair trial.
Instead of appearing before a judge in Sylmar Juvenile Court, the defendant agrees to be judged by other teens who once sat in the defendant's chair.
Given the importance of witness credibility, it was a short step for the Supreme Court to take to decide that due process requires the government to disclose to a defendant information regarding witness credibility prior to trial.
Scalia, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Sandra Day O'Connor, fretted that defendants will see Sell as an open invitation to misuse the system and delay trial.
The new rules should help end the all-too-common practice of plaintiffs suing defendants with peripheral involvement in a medical liability action merely because one defendant is in Philadelphia or some other "jackpot" county.
Paralegal Amy Kelber sees about forty defendants a week, and of those, she estimates two decline public representation and plead no contest.
Attorneys are now successfully arguing that, without knowledge of previous settlements, it is impossible for juries and judges to fairly apportion liability to defendants.
15, 2002 all of the defendants were at the apartment she shared with two roommates.
The defendants were convicted for possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver.
Austin's claims, Cottage Hospital, joined by the five physician defendants, four of whom were neurosurgeons, filed a summary judgment motion asserting that the defendants were immune from federal antitrust liability under the Act.