John Doe Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is John Doe?

It is fictitious name which is used to acknowledge a person who is involved in a legal proceeding but whose identity is unknown.It is used to refer an unknown dead body or a person who is hospitalized but whose identity is unknown.

History and Meaning of John Doe

The term John Doe has been used in legal proceedings since the early days of common law in England, and it is still commonly used today. The name John Doe is typically used to refer to a person whose identity is unknown or needs to remain anonymous. In legal documents and court proceedings, John Doe is often used as a placeholder name for the defendant or a witness whose identity needs to be protected.

Examples of John Doe

Here are a few examples of how the term John Doe might be used in different contexts:

  • In a criminal case, the prosecution might refer to an unknown accomplice as John Doe.
  • In a civil case, a plaintiff might name John Doe as a defendant until they can identify the actual person or entity responsible for their damages.
  • In a medical context, John Doe might be used to refer to an unidentified patient who has been admitted to a hospital.
  • In an immigration case, a petitioner might use John Doe as a placeholder name for a family member who is unable to provide identification documents.

Legal Terms Similar to John Doe

Here are a few related legal terms that are similar to John Doe:

  • Jane Doe - Like John Doe, Jane Doe is a placeholder name used for an unidentified or anonymous female person in legal proceedings.
  • Roe v. Wade - This landmark US Supreme Court case from 1973 established a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy, using the pseudonym Jane Roe to protect her privacy.
  • Unidentified decedent - This term is used in forensic science to refer to an unidentified deceased person, often in cases of homicide.
  • Placeholder name - This is a general term used in the legal and business world to refer to temporary or generic names used to stand in for a real name or identity.