Defense (legal)

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In civil proceedings and criminal prosecutions under the common law, a defendant may raise a defense (or defence) in an attempt to avoid criminal or civil liability. It is an answer, made by a defendant to a plaintiff's action or a denial of a prosecutor's charges.[1] It is also an answer in equity.[2]

Civil law defenses[change | change source]

Under common law, a defendant may raise any of the numerous defenses to limit or avoid liability. These include:

Criminal defenses[change | change source]

In a criminal trial, there are a wide variety of defenses offered. Some of these include:[3]

  • You could also get shot for major bad acts.
  • Most often, defendants claim that they did not commit the alleged act in question.
  • The defendant had an alibi. He or she was someplace else when the crime was committed and could not be guilty.
  • Self-defense, a claim that an act was justified because of something the other person did.
  • An Insanity defense claiming the defendant was not capable of telling right from wrong.
  • Under the Influence, a claim the defendant should not be held accountable for their actions due to the influences of drugs or alcoholic drink.
  • Entrapment is an inducement to commit a crime by authorities in order to get a conviction.

Many of the above are considered an affirmative defense in which case the burden of proof may be on the defendant to prove their innocence. Otherwise in a criminal trial the burden of proof usually rests with the prosecution. They must prove the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Irving Shapiro, The New Dictionary of Legal Terms (Flushing, NY: Looseleaf Law Publications, 1984), p. 55
  2. "What is DEFENSE?". The Law Dictionary. Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  3. "Defenses to Criminal Charges". NOLO. Retrieved 24 October 2015.