Jane Doe Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Jane Doe?

The false or fake name used in the legal proceeding for an unknown or unidentified female/woman/girl who is party to the lawsuit filed.

History and Meaning of Jane Doe

Jane Doe is a legal term that refers to a fictitious character or an anonymous woman who is part of a legal case. The term "Jane Doe" was first used in the English legal system in the 17th century, and it quickly gained widespread use in other legal systems around the world. The use of Jane Doe is seen as a way of protecting the identities of those involved in a legal case, especially those who are victims of crimes, and those whose identities are not yet known.

Examples of Jane Doe

  1. In a criminal case involving sexual assault, the victim's name may be withheld to protect her identity, and she may be referred to as Jane Doe in court.
  2. In a medical malpractice suit, the family of a deceased patient may file a lawsuit, but if they wish to remain anonymous, they may use the name Jane Doe.
  3. In a class-action lawsuit involving a large group of plaintiffs, some of whom may not want to reveal their identity publicly, the court may assign a Jane Doe pseudonym to protect their privacy.

Legal Terms Similar to Jane Doe

  • John Doe: Similar to Jane Doe, John Doe is a legally fictitious name used to refer to a male whose identity is not known, or for whom a legal name cannot be provided or located.
  • Unnamed Plaintiff: This term refers to a legal person who is involved in a lawsuit, but whose name is not known or has not been disclosed to the public.
  • Pseudonym: A pseudonym is a fictitious name, often used by writers or artists, to protect their identities or to publish works anonymously.