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A defendant is an individual or organization that has been accused of civil misconduct, such as breaking a contract, causing property damage or physical harm – or criminal behavior. In the case of criminal allegations against them, defendants are often detained until their trial date when bail may be granted for release pending resolution. Civil wrongdoers face potential penalties in the form of financial restitution to plaintiffs who have brought suit against them seeking damages from said wrongdoing.


  • Nominal: a person who is named as a defendant in a lawsuit, even though they may not be responsible. They are named as a defendant to avoid the suit being dismissed.
  • Substitute: the person who takes the place of the defendant in a lawsuit.
  • Co-defendant: someone who has joined with other people in defending a legal action.
  • Third Party: someone that the original defendant sues along with the original plaintiff.

Civil Defendant:

When someone is accused of a civil wrong, the person bringing the suit forward is known as the plaintiff and those that are being sued are named defendants. Unlike in criminal trials where arrests take place, parties involved in civil suits usually appear at court proceedings or have an attorney represent them on their behalf. If a defendant loses during trial they may be required to pay monetary damages to cover any harm done – this can even include legal fees depending on what’s been agreed upon beforehand by both parties.

Being accused of a crime or civil wrong can be an intimidating process, and seeking the help of an attorney is essential. Many people are unsure where to start when it comes to finding legal counsel; however having one ensures that your rights will remain protected throughout the trial period. An experienced lawyer in criminal/civil law for that region should also be sought as court proceedings may differ from state-to-state and could become complex during this time. Protecting oneself with qualified expertise ultimately puts you in a better position moving forward – even if there are costs involved along the way.

Defendant Synonyms:

Litigant, offender, suspect, appellant

Offender, Suspect