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De Minimis Defense

De Minimis Defense

Definition

A defense that allows a court to dismiss a criminal charge for a trifling matter that causes so little harm that criminal liability is unjustified. A de minimis statute may allow a court to dismiss charges against a defendant if, after examining the nature of the conduct and the nature of the surrounding circumstances, the court finds that the legislature probably did not intend to criminalize the defendant’s specific conduct.

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