Defense (legal)


Defense (legal)

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. Besides contesting the accuracy of any allegation made against him or her in a criminal or civil proceeding, a defendant may also make allegations against the prosecutor or plaintiff or raise a defense, arguing that, even if the allegations against the defendant are true, the defendant is nevertheless not liable.

Since a defense is raised by the defendant in a direct attempt to avoid what would otherwise result in liability, the defendant typically holds the burden of proof. For example, if a defendant in an assault and battery case attempts to claim provocation, the victim of said assault and battery would not have to prove that he did not provoke the plaintiff; the defendant would have to prove that the plaintiff did.

Civil law defenses

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

Self-defense

In addition to defenses against prosecution and liability, a defendant may also raise a defense of justification - such as self-defense and defense of others or defense of property.

See also

  • Absolute defense



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