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Defendant

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In law, a defendant is the party that must respond to legal action. The legal action against a defendant can be either a civil or a criminal lawsuit. In a civil suit, a plaintiff makes a complaint against the defendant. In a criminal suit, a prosecutor charges violation of a criminal statute. A lawsuit can name a single defendant or many. A defendant in a court proceeding that represents himself is said to be acting pro se. The legal counsel of a defendant is called the defense in the court proceedings. If a petition rather than a lawsuit is filed in court, the entity named is called a respondent rather than a defendant. Because of the time and costs involved in the US legal system, a potential defendant will often settle out of court before legal action is initiated.



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