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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 ?
However, if a case has multiple defendants, removal is more complicated.
For the opposition who believe that plea bargains are coercive, the credibility paradox raises a puzzle: Why do so many defendants accept stiff plea bargains when the alternative is no prosecution?
However, while not addressing the potentially adverse impact of pursuing an insanity defense, the United States Supreme Court has held that adequate representation of a defendant, even when a defendant's mental illness is clearly established, does not require the pursuit of an insanity defense.
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the three-count charge of conspiracy, fraud and stealing.
The case includes a total of 44 defendants, who are accused of establishing a terrorist group and of targeting and killing a number of security forces.
In their notice of removal, defendants cited an allegation from the complaint that "Defendants provide base operations support, including facility operations and maintenance, for the U.S.
A number of defendants were arrested and search operations continue to bring the rest of the terrorists to justice.
"While the Court recognizes that these types of hardships often exist in criminal matters, it does not find that they constitute the severe and compelling prejudice that 'would compromise a specific trial right of one of the defendants ...
The Abu Dhabi Criminal Court of First Instance had earlier sentenced the defendants to seven years in jail and ordered their deportation after serving their jail sentences.
According to police, defendants Caesar and Ernest Kermue who were said to be at large, had allegedly helped defendant Williams to put late journalist Browne's corpse in the car.
On the contrary, it suffices for our present purpose that the one whose action is premised on such a contention is able to demonstrate that the culprits, the 2nd and 3rd Defendants herein, are guilty of non-compliance with and/or have violated the mandatory statutory and regulatory regime in the procurement procedure which have been laid down to ensure money for value.
Prosecutors accused 16 defendants of assaulting a man with axes, knives, swords and killing him and critically injuring another man.