Disjunctive Allegations Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Disjunctive Allegations, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Disjunctive Allegations?

n. A civil lawsuit’s attempt to claim that one thing “or” another occurred, and in criminal charges that one crime “or” another was committed by the accused. These types of complaints are not allowed because the defendant is entitles to know the charges which they must defend themselves against.

History and Meaning of Disjunctive Allegations

Disjunctive allegations are a common legal term used in both civil and criminal lawsuits. They refer to attempts made in a lawsuit to claim that one or more events or crimes have occurred, without specifying which one is relevant to the case at hand. In other words, disjunctive allegations use the word "or" to indicate that any one of the events or crimes listed could be the one that happened, without specifying which one is being referred to.

This type of claim is not generally allowed in most legal cases since it can make it difficult for an accused party to know exactly what they are being charged with. Instead, a plaintiff or prosecutor must be specific about the events or crimes they are alleging took place.

Examples of Disjunctive Allegations

  • In a civil lawsuit, the plaintiff alleges that the defendant “was involved in fraud or is in breach of contract”. Since fraud and breach of contract are two entirely different legal issues, this disjunctive allegation would not be permitted to stand in court.

  • In a criminal case, the prosecutor charges the defendant with "Arson or Burglary". This disjunctive allegation is not allowed because it would make it difficult for the accused party to prepare a defence against the specific allegation.

  • In a custody case, a parent might claim that the other parent is "physically or emotionally abusive". In this case, the disjunctive allegation would not be allowed as it would be unclear whether the abuse was physical, emotional or both.

Legal Terms Similar to Disjunctive Allegations

  • Conjunctive Allegations: The opposite of disjunctive allegations, where multiple claims in a lawsuit are joined together by the word "and" to indicate that all of them must be true for the claim to hold up in court.

  • Motion to Dismiss: A motion filed by a defendant asking the court to dismiss one or more claims made against them in a lawsuit for failing to meet certain legal requirements, such as specificity in the allegations.

  • Alternative pleadings: When a plaintiff lists multiple claims that could be made in a lawsuit, but are not presented in a disjunctive format. Instead, each claim is presented separately, and a court will decide which one is relevant to the case at hand.