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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 ?
We found that the more television ads aired during state supreme court judicial elections in a state, the less likely justices are to vote in favor of criminal defendants.
For a criminal defendant, one might expect that obtaining favorable action on appeal is the most important metric for assessing whether counsel was effective.
The Florida Supreme Court held in Puglisi that a criminal defendant does not have the authority to make strategic decisions in his case and that it is the defense counsel that "has the final authority as to whether or not the defense will call a particular witness to testify at the criminal trial.
The Committee's opinion is that it is prejudicial to the administration of justice for a prosecutor to require the criminal defendant to waive claims of prosecutorial misconduct when the prosecutor is in the best position, and indeed may be the only person, to be aware that misconduct has taken place.
40) It is important for criminal defendants to have the option of exercising the right to self-representation when their counsel cannot reconcile this tension in a way that preserves the defendant's autonomy.
186) If a state's civil commitment rules are too narrow to allow for the involuntary treatment of a mentally ill criminal defendant who has been found not guilty of criminal charges on the basis of reasonable doubt about mens rea, the solution should be to revise those rules, not to prohibit criminal defendants from presenting evidence for the purpose of raising reasonable doubt about an element of a charged offense.
One possible modification to the rule would have the court apply a reasonable indicia requirement to be shown by a criminal defendant in order to trigger the state's obligation to cover the defendant's cost (using a national pricing matrix to calculate cost).
Commonwealth and the criminal defendant at the same time.
The Fifth Circuit added that both he and the defendant's expert noted that criminal defendants have both the incentive and the propensity to simulate mental illness in an attempt to avoid criminal responsibility for their actions, suggesting that a defendant's "silence" in this context may be relevant to a determination of whether a defendant's purported mental disorder is genuine.
CHICAGO -- The first evidence-based support for clinical factors that may help to predict when a criminal defendant who is incompetent to stand trial can be restored to competence was presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.
72) None of these exceptions provide a basis for a disclosure in response to a subpoena served by a criminal defendant, nor a court order secured at the defendant's request.
Attorney's claim that every criminal defendant should be required to sit at the table farthest from the jury.