Affirmative Defense

A defense based on facts other than those that support the plaintiff's or government's claim. A successful affirmative defense excuses the defendant from civil or criminal liability, wholly or partly, even if all of the allegations in the complaint are true.

Examples of affirmative defenses include:

  • Contributory negligence, which reduces a defendant's civil liability when the plaintiff's own negligence contributed to her injuries.

  • Statute of limitations, which prevents a party from prosecuting a claim after the limitations period has expired.

  • Self defense, which excuses a defendant's criminal culpability.

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