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The term defective is used in reference to something that is incapable of fulfilling its function, due to an error or flaw. Some common uses of the term “defective” in a legal sense include:

  • Cases such as this one from New Jersey, explain that in the context of products liability, a product is considered to be “defective” when it is not reasonably fit, suitable, and safe for its intended or foreseeable purposes. 
  • Cases such as this one from Louisiana, explain that “a thing is defective for purposes of strict liability if it is unreasonably dangerous, meaning that it is dangerous to an extent beyond that which would be contemplated by an ordinary person.”
  • In the context of charging instruments, cases such as this one from Ohio, explain that “a charging document is defective, if one of the vital elements identifying the crime is omitted. However, not all facts surrounding an offense are vital elements.”
  • In the context of indictments, cases such as this one from Virginia, explain that an indictment is defective, and thus subject to dismissal, if it alleges a violation of an unconstitutional statute.

[Last updated in July of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]