Peremptory plea

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In the common law, the peremptory pleas (pleas in bar) are pleas that set out special reasons for which a trial cannot go ahead. They are the plea of autrefois convict, the plea of autrefois acquit, and the plea of pardon.

A plea of autrefois convict (Law French for "previously convicted") is one in which the defendant claims to have been previously convicted of the same offence and that he or she therefore cannot be tried for it again. A plea of autrefois convict can be combined with a plea of not guilty.

A plea of autrefois acquit (Law French for "previously acquitted") means the defendant claims to have been previously acquitted of the same offence, on substantially the same evidence, and that he or she therefore cannot be tried for it again. A plea of autrefois acquit can be combined with a plea of not guilty.

Related doctrines include res judicata and, in the criminal context, a plea in bar of double jeopardy. In the plea of pardon, the defendant claims that he or she has been pardoned for the offence and therefore cannot be tried for it.

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