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A defense is an act of protecting one’s own interests. In common law, a defendant may use defenses to prevent or limit liability. A defense can either allege a failure to state a claim, or affirm the existence of a claim and present additional reasons that prevent the plaintiff or prosecutor from prevailing on a cause of action, a demand for relief, or otherwise obtaining the result requested. A defense can be founded on both factual and legal grounds.

See also: Affirmative defense, Complete defense, Partial defense, Excuse, and Justification.

[Last updated in September of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]