- Defense (legal)
Criminal defenses Part of the common law series Insanity · Immunity · Mental disorder
Intoxication · Infancy
Automatism · Alibi
Consent · Mistake
Duress · Necessity
False confession · Entrapment
Criminal law and procedure
Other common law areas Criminal · Contract · Tort
Property wills · Trusts and estates
Portals Law · Criminal justice
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:
- Lack of personal or subject matter jurisdiction of the court, such as diplomatic immunity.
- Failure to state a cause of action or other insufficiencies of pleading.
- Any of the affirmative defenses.
- Defenses conferred by statute - such as a statute of limitations or the statute of frauds.
- Ex turpi causa non oritur actio - the action against the defendant arises from an illegality.
- Volenti non fit injuria - consent by the victim or plaintiff.
- Absolute defense
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