What Is A Defendant?
A defendant in a court case is someone who a lawsuit is being brought against by the plaintiff. They are sued or accused of committing a certain action. The only two types of court cases that involve a defendant are criminal cases and civil cases. In criminal cases, the plaintiff (usually the state or local authority) is accusing the defendant of committing a crime. In civil cases (contract disputes, property disputes, Tort cases, etc.), the defendant is being accused of harming another person or business through non-criminal actions. In an arbitration or divorce case, a defendant is often referred to as a respondent.
What Is A Plaintiff?
In relation to a defendant, the plaintiff sues the defendant and brings a lawsuit to court. The plaintiff in a case must provide a “burden of proof”, meaning that they must provide enough evidence to prove their case is true. In a criminal case, the plaintiff is not the victim but represents the society. In arbitration cases, a plaintiff is often referred to as a claimant.
What Types of Cases Can Have A Defendant?
- Criminals Cases
A criminal case occurs when a defendant is being charged with a felony, misdemeanor, or another offense. They are accused of committing a crime which may include murder, kidnapping, arson, and robbery. The plaintiff must provide beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime they are being accused of.
- Civil Cases
A civil case occurs when a plaintiff claims that the defendant has negatively impacted or harmed them through non-criminal actions. There are many types of civil cases including family law, contract, tenant and landlord, property dispute, and Tort cases.
- Arbitration Cases
In an arbitration case, a defendant is referred to as a respondent. Arbitration is an alternative to going to court. In this type of case, the dispute is presented to a disinterested third party who makes the final case decision. The arbitrator doesn’t have to be a lawyer, it can be an expert in the field. The party hears the evidence presented by both sides, and forms opinions based on what is presented. This method of settling a case outside of court costs less money and takes less time.
View our other Glossary Terms here.
*This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice.