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The forcible repulsion of an unlawful and violent attack, such as the defense of one's person, property, or country in time of war.

The totality of the facts, law, and contentions presented by the party against whom a civil action or ciminal prosecution is instituted in order to defeat or diminish the plaintiff's Cause of Action or the prosecutor's case. A reply to the claims of the other party, which asserts reasons why the claims should be disallowed. The defense may involve an absolute denial of the other party's factual allegations or may entail an Affirmative Defense, which sets forth completely new factual allegations. Pursuant to the rules of federal Civil Procedure, numerous defenses may be asserted by motion as well as by answer, while other defenses must be pleaded affirmatively.

A frivolous defense is one that entails a vacuous assertion, which is not supported by argument or evidence. The rules of federal procedure provide that on motion such defense may be ordered stricken from the pleadings.

A meritorious defense is one that involves the essence or substance of the case, as distinguished from technical objections or delaying tactics.

With respect to a criminal charge, defenses such as alibi, consent, duress, Entrapment, ignorance or mistake, infancy, insanity, intoxication, and Self-Defense can result in a party's acquittal.


n. 1) a general term for the effort of an attorney representing a defendant during trial and in pre-trial maneuvers to defeat the party suing or the prosecution in a criminal case. 2) a response to a complaint, called an affirmative defense, to counter, defeat, or remove all or a part of the contentions of the plaintiff. (See: affirmative defense)


noun confutation, counterargument, justification, parry, preservation, protection, rebuttal, resistance against attack, support, warding off
Associated concepts: affirmative defense, alibi defense, annicipating a defense, assist in his own defense, coercion as a defense, complete defense, defense of a third person, deeense of action, defense of estoppel, defense of insanity, defense on the merits, defensive pleading, equitable deeense, frivolous defense, ground of defense, incomplete defense, inconsistent defenses, legal defenses, meritorious defense, motion to strike defense, negative defense, new defense, partial defense, personal defense, self-defense, sham defense, special defense
Foreign phrases: Peccatum peccato addit qui culpae quam facit patrocinium defensionis adjungit.He adds one offense to another who connects a wrong which he has committed with his defense. Vani timoris justa excusatio non est. A frivolous fear is not a lawful excuse. Nemo prohibetur pluribus defensionibus uti. No one is prohibited from making use of several defenses. Impotentia excusat legem. Performing a legal duty excuses from the performance. Quodcunque aliquis ob tutelam corporis sui fecerit, jure id fecisse videtur. Whatever any one does in defense of his person, that he is deemed to have done legally. Vim vi reeellere licit. modo fiat moderamine inculpatae tutelae, non ad sumendam vindictam, sed ad propulsandam innuriam. It is lawful to repel force by force, provided it be done with the moderation of blameless defense, not for the purpose of taking revenge, but to repel injury.
See also: advocacy, alibi, ammunition, answer, argument, assistance, basis, behalf, bulwark, compurgation, counterargument, excuse, explanation, justification, panoply, plea, pleading, preservation, pretext, protection, reason, rejoinder, safeguard, safekeeping, safety, salvo, security, shelter, shield, support, ward
References in periodicals archive ?
Although "Jewish communities from nearby towns correspond secretly about self-protection," they do nothing but huddle defenselessly in their houses like hunted animals, responding to the corpse of the first Jewish victim in the unfeeling manner of beasts:
He lay there in the confiding relaxation of a sleeping child, his hands unclenched and his head thrown back so that the bare throat showed defenselessly.