Definition for PLEA

PLEA, n. [Norm. plait, plet, plaid, ple; plur. pliz, pleytz; Fr. plaider, to plead; plaidoyer, a plea; It. piato, a plea; piatire, to plead; Sp. pleyto, dispute; pleytear, to plead; pleyteador, a pleader; Port. pleito, pleitear; D. pleit, pleiten. The Spanish word pleyto signifies a dispute, contest, debate, lawsuit, and a covenant, contract or bargain, and pleyta is a plaited strand of brass. The Portuguese verb pleitear signifies to plead, to go to law, to strive or vie. The elements of this word are probably Ld or Pld. In the sense of pleading, the word accords with the Gr. λιτη, and in that of striving, with the L. lis, litis.]

  1. In law, that which is alledged by a party in support of his demand; but in a more limited and technical sense, the answer of the defendant to the plaintif's declaration and demand. That which the plaintif alledges in his declaration is answered and repelled or justified by the defendant's plea. Pleas are dilatory, or pleas to the action. Dilatory pleas are to the jurisdiction of the court, to the disability of the plaintif, or in abatement. Pleas to the action are an answer to the merits of the complaint, which confesses or denies it. Pleas that deny the plaintif's complaint or demand, are the general issue, which denies the whole declaration; or special pleas in bar, which state something which precludes the plaintif's right of recovery.
  2. A cause in court; a lawsuit, or a criminal process; as, the pleas of the crown; the court of common pleas. The supreme judicial court shall have cognizance of pleas real, personal and mixed. – Laws of Mass.
  3. That which is alledged in defense or justification; an excuse; an apology; as, the tyrant's plea. When such occasions are, / No plea must serve; 'tis cruelty to spare. – Denham.
  4. Urgent prayer or entreaty.

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