Defendant: The Accused in a Legal Court Case

Defendant: The Accused in a Legal Court Case

What is a Defendant?

A defendant 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.

  • In criminal law, a defendant is anyone tried under the court of law as the person(s) who committed the crime
  • A defendant in a civil action usually makes their 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.

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.  The defendant may have their lawyer appear instead.

For more legal definitions, visit our Glossary of Legal and Investigation Terms.

Related Articles

Child Abuse: Physically, Mentally and Emotionally Damaging or Neglecting Children

What is Child Abuse? Child abuse is generally considered to be the physical or psychological emotional mistreatment of children. In

Racketeering: Illegal Businesses Run by Organized Crime Organizations

What is Racketeering? A racket is an illegal business, usually run as part of organized crime.  Engaging in a racket

Search and Seizure Laws and Guidelines

What is Search and Seizure? Search and seizure is a legal procedure whereby a police officer, law enforcement official, or

No comments

Write a comment
No Comments Yet! You can be first to comment this post!

Write a Comment

Your e-mail address will not be published.
Required fields are marked*