How to Complete a Statement of Defense

By Brian Richards
a Statement, Defense
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A statement of defense, also known as a response or an answer, is a legal document filed with a court in response to a lawsuit that has been filed against you. You will receive a summons and a copy of the plaintiff's complaint, to which you must respond within a certain time period defined by your jurisdiction. This statement of defense should include your response to the complaint, along with any other information you wish to provide to the court before the hearing date. The clerk of the court can guide you to the proper forms and procedures when you visit the courthouse.

Read the complaint fully. The complaint will outline the reasons why the plaintiff believes he will succeed at trial. The complaint will typically have a number of stated facts followed by the various legal reasons why the plaintiff thinks your alleged acts make you legally liable for damages.

Ask the clerk of the court with jurisdiction over your matter--this information will be included in the summons and the complaint--for an Answer or General Denial form. The name of the form will vary based on your jurisdiction, but all will allow you to submit a response to the plaintiff's complaint.

Answer each of the contentions made in the complaint. The facts in the complaint will be numbered, and your answer should follow the same line numbering as the complaint. For each fact, write something like "Defendant denies/admits each and every allegation set forth in Paragraph # of the Complaint."

Outline any affirmative defenses you wish to plead. An affirmative defense is a statement that admits that facts are true, but explains why your actions were not in violation of the law. For instance, an affirmative defense to civil battery may be that you were acting in self-defense. Write such an affirmative defense with the heading "First Affirmative Defense" and the line "Defendant alleges that Defendant's actions constitute self-defense, rending the actions not tortious."

Terminate your statement of defense with a prayer. A prayer is what you're asking the court to do. For instance, you might write "Defendant pray that Plaintiff not recover by Plaintiff's Complaint, and that the court render judgment against Plaintiff and honor Defendant's motion to dismiss."

Sign and date your statement of defense at the bottom of the document. Some jurisdictions may require verification from a notary public. Give the answer with the clerk of the court to be filed.

About the Author

Brian Richards is an attorney whose work has appeared in law and philosophy journals and online in legal blogs and article repositories. He has been a writer since 2008. He holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from University of California, San Diego and a Juris Doctor from Lewis and Clark School of Law.