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  1. Bankruptcy Glossary
  2. Defendant

What is a Defendant?

In a criminal case the prosecution or the state must prove certain elements of the crime "beyond a reasonable doubt". The United States legal system allows the defendant to be represented by a lawyer, the right to a trial by their peers, the right to a speedy trial, the right to remain silent and the right to not be tried for the same crime twice. Punishment for the defendant if convicted of a crime can vary from incarceration, penalties, fines and execution. Defendants in civil actions generally are summoned to court and will make a voluntary appearance or avoid most court appearances by the representation of an attorney.

Criminal defendants are generally arrested and involuntarily forced to appear in court either after being taken into custody by a police officer or arrested through the process of an arrest warrant. Criminal defendants generally must be present at court as the criminal proceedings against them progress. Defendants may exist in a bankruptcy Adversary proceeding if a plaintiff files a complaint with the bankruptcy court against the defendant.

Adversary Proceedings are governed by rules outlined in Part VII of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The plaintiffs in an adversary proceeding can include the Trustee or other parties (such as a Creditor) or the debtor who may begin an adversary proceeding against creditors who have violated certain federal rules of the bankruptcy process.