Defense (legal)

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For other uses, see Defence (disambiguation).

In civil proceedings and criminal prosecutions under the common law, a defendant may raise a defence (or defense) 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 defence, arguing that, even if the allegations against the defendant are true, the defendant is nevertheless not liable.

Since a defence 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 defendant; the defendant would have to prove that the plaintiff did.

Civil law defences[edit]

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

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

Costs[edit]

Litigation is expensive and often may last for months or years. Parties can finance their litigation and pay for their attorneys' fees or other legal costs in a number of ways. Defendants can pay with their own money, through legal defence funds, or legal financing companies.

See also[edit]