Defendant

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Dictionary Meaning and Definition on 'Defendant'

Defendant Meaning and Definition from WordNet (r) 2.0
    defendant n : a person or institution against whom an action is brought in a court of law; the person being sued or accused [syn: suspect] [ant: plaintiff]
Defendant Meaning and Definition from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
    Defendant \De*fend"ant\, a. [F. d['e]fendant, p. pr. of d['e]fendre. See Defend.]
  1. Serving, or suitable, for defense; defensive. [Obs.] With men of courage and with means defendant. --Shak.
  2. Making defense.
Defendant Meaning and Definition from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
    Defendant \De*fend"ant\, n.
  1. One who defends; a defender. The rampiers and ditches which the defendants had cast up. --Spotswood.
  2. (Law) A person required to make answer in an action or suit; -- opposed to plaintiff. --Abbott. Note: The term is applied to any party of whom a demand is made in court, whether the party denies and defends the claim, or admits it, and suffers a default; also to a party charged with a criminal offense.
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Wikipedia Meaning and Definition on 'Defendant'


A defendant or defender (Δ in legal shorthand) is any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff or pursuer in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute. (Note that American lawyers and judges often pronounce the word slightly differently than is common in standard American English, pronouncing the final syllable exactly as one pronounces ant---the name of an insect---in this pronunciation scheme.) A respondent is the parallel term used in a proceeding which is commenced by petition.

In criminal law, a defendant is anyone tried under the court of law as the ones who have committed the crime. A defendant in a civil action usually makes his or her first court appearance voluntarily in response to a summons, whereas a defendant in a criminal case is often taken into custody by police and brought before a court, pursuant to an arrest warrant. The actions of a defendant, and its lawyer counsel, is known as the defense. Historically, a defendant in a civil action could also be taken into custody pursuant to a writ of capias ad respondendum and forced to post bail before being released from custody. However, a modern day defendant in a civil action is usually able to avoid most (if not all) court appearances if represented by a lawyer, whereas a defendant in a criminal case (particularly a felony or indictment) is usually obliged to post bail before being released from custody and must be present at every stage thereafter of the proceedings against him or her (they often may have their lawyer appear instead, especially for very minor cases, such as traffic offenses in jurisdictions which treat them as crimes).

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