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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 ?
Based upon the facts in this case, to convict defendant of DUI, the state needed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant, had cannabis "in his breath, blood, or urine when he was driving.
reached a verdict in favor of the defendants, rejecting the plaintiff's argument that exposure to welding fumes caused Parkinson's disease.
Information reflecting upon the credibility of a government witness is information that a defendant is entitled to have his trier-of-fact (whether judge or jury) consider.
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.
As a general rule, however, the court will not allow a defendant to take discovery from the plaintiffs certifying expert, barring exceptional circumstances that make obtaining facts and opinions on the particular subject impracticable.
Instead, defendant offered in June 1995 to remove the portions of the storm drain pipe not under plaintiffs addition and to fill and seal the remaining portions with concrete.
Here, the defendant interposed a counterclaim seeking damages exceeding the tax refund based upon a claim that plaintiff, as lessee, failed to properly maintain the building.
The best count the office offers is in its monthly Budget Forecasting Report, which includes reports from around Wisconsin of defendants who have turned down a public defender because of cost.
For example, that act provides that defendants determined to be less than 60% at fault are liable solely for damages proportionate to their percentage of fault, and not for any portion of harm done by any other entity.
The defendant and his girlfriend were both indicted and convicted for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana.
Under that standard, the defendant must demonstrate that their procedure is adequate to provide a fair and unbiased review.