Definition of cease and desist

Definition of cease and desist

Definition of cease and desist

A cease and desist order …A letter of cessation and abstention …
Is issued by a government agency or a court.Can be written by anyone, usually a lawyer.
Forces the offender to cease an activity.Asks the offender to stop an activity.
Compels the offender to respond to an agency or court.Asks for a response from the offender.
Prohibits the offender from continuing the activity.Does not prohibit the activity (but may subject the recipient to legal action).
Definition of cease and desist

Cessation and abstention letter

A cease and desist letter is not legally binding and reflects the opinion of an individual, usually a lawyer. A cease and desist letter can be used to warn an offender that legal action may take place if they do not stop the activity. The offender usually has a set period — usually 10 to 15 days — to cease and desist.

A cease and desist letter must comply with the jurisdiction’s laws to which it is sent. In addition, the American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct state that a lawyer “shall not present, participate in the presentation or threaten to bring a criminal charge solely to gain an advantage in a civil case.”. Such a threat has no other legal significance than being a negotiating tactic.

Cessation and forbearance letters often require a signature upon delivery. The letter is usually sent with a requested acknowledgment of receipt, although this is not required.

Legal considerations for a cease and desist letter

A lawyer is bound by the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. These rules prevent lawyers from presenting or participating in threats or laying criminal charges to gain an advantage in a civil case.

Three prerequisites generally must be met before a lawyer can raise the prospect of charges without violating the code of professional conduct.

  1. The charges must be related to the civil case at issue. Citing a criminal charge unrelated to the civil action to gain the upper hand in the civil case is a deceptive tactic that is frowned upon by the legal system. Professional misconduct would be professional misconduct if a lawyer who abuses trust by maliciously twisting a case or making a false statement.
  2. The lawyer must believe that the civil action and associated criminal charges are based on merit over the law. An unfounded and unfounded claim may expose the lawyer to an allegation of embarrassment on the person who received the cease and desist letter. The lawyer may have filed a frivolous complaint in violation of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
  3. A lawyer should not attempt to exercise or influence the criminal process unduly. A lawyer who attempts to influence the outcome of justice following a cease and desist letter through illegitimate means such as bias, coercion, or fraud may turn out to have tampered with the legal system. For example, a lawyer may not tell a recipient that criminal charges can avoid if the recipient meets the client’s requirements as set out in the letter. In legal terms, this could imply that the lawyer has some authority over legal proceedings, a violation of the ABA’s rules of professional conduct.
  4. Anyone can send a cease and desist letter. A lawyer does not have to be involved. However, a lawyer can tell complainants whether their rights have been violated and whether they have a legal and respectable right to send a cease and desist letter. The lawyer also knows the correct language to use.

A restraining order is a type of cease-and-desist order issued to a person accused of criminal harassment or intimidation.

Examples of cessation and abstention

Four illegal activities are most often addressed by cease and desist orders or letters: misuse of intellectual property, harassment, libel and slander, and breach of contract, including unfair labor practices or unfair compensation.

Definition of cease and desist
Definition of cease and desist

Remember that while anyone can write a cease and desist letter, a cease and desist order must be made by a court or other body legally empowered to do so.

If you are served with a Cease-and-Desist document, review it carefully – with legal advice, if necessary – to determine who sent it and its legal status and validity.

Intellectual property

Someone who duplicates a work protected by a trademark, copyright, or patent without authorization may receive a letter or order of cease and desist.

For example, a website publisher who plagiarizes content or images from another website without obtaining the rights to repost the content risks copyright infringement charges and may be imposed a ceasefire.

If a charge does reach court, the cease and desist letter proves that the recipient was aware of the alleged misconduct.


A person who repeatedly harasses or threatens another person may receive a cease and desist letter as a warning.

For example, according to the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCAPA), third-party debt collectors cannot harass, oppress, or abuse anyone to collect a debt owed to them.

A debtor who regularly and frequently calls a debtor may receive a cease and desist letter. A cease and desist order can be requested and issued in more egregious cases.

A restraining order is a special type of cease-and-desist order used in criminal harassment or bullying cases. The definition and rules regarding criminal harassment vary by state.

cease and desist of character

It is illegal to make false comments about another person that could damage their reputation and business, whether in writing or verbally. A person who engages in such behavior should not be surprised to receive a cease and desist letter.

For example, a person who spreads a false rumor that a fast-food chain’s burgers are made mostly of ground bugs may receive a cease and desist letter or even a cease and desist order because their lies can harm the business.

Contract violations

A party who violates the terms of a contract may receive a letter or a cease and desist order. For example, in the hedge fund industry, employees are usually required to sign a non-compete agreement. If employees leave the company, they cannot take proprietary documents or hedge fund clients with them.

Suppose an employee leaves for a new job and solicits clients from the previous employer. In that case, the employer can send a cease and desist letter warning the employee of a possible criminal charge for breach of contract.

Frequently asked questions on discontinuation and abstention.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about letters and cease and desist orders.

Can someone send a cease and desist letter?

Yes. You don’t need a lawyer to prepare a cease and desist letter, although a lawyer does know how to write a letter that properly scares the recipient without going over an ethical line.

DIY enthusiasts can find ready-made cease and desist templates online for any occasion. Sample letters demanding that the recipient cease unauthorized use of copyrighted works, breach of contractual agreement, defamation, and harassment are available on sites such as TempateLAB and eForms.

Remember that a cease and desist letter is not legally binding like a cease and desist order from a court or government agency. Its purpose is to alert the recipient that you are aware of an alleged violation and may be ready to take legal action to protect your rights.

How effective are cease and desist letters?

A cease and desist letter can be very effective.

A legitimate business or an individual with a reputation to protect is likely to pay attention to an allegation of illegal activity.

That said, some people will ignore everything except a cease and desist order from a court or government agency. They know it would be expensive and time-consuming for anyone to take legal action against them.

What happens if a cease and desist letter is ignored?

By definition, a cease and desist order alleges that illegal activity occurs and asks the recipient to stop it immediately.

If a cease and desist letter is ignored, the sender’s recourse is legal action against the offender. And, if it does make it to court, the cease and desist letter will serve as proof that the offender was warned of the violation and ignored the warning.

What does it mean to cease and desist?

Definition of cease and desist: It could be called ‘stop and stop doing it, and it is generally a legal term used by courts or sometimes by individuals and lawyers to cause a person or entity to cease. You can engage in a particular activity. When made by a court or a judge, it is called a cease and desist order. The other context in which this can use is where a person, possibly with the help of a lawyer, writes a cease and desist letter, where legal action threatens if the person (or the business) does not cease to carry out a certain activity.

There are many possible scenarios where a judge could make a cease and desist order. Sometimes this command is temporary. The person who asks to stop an activity may only ask to stop until a court hearing can determine the legality of the activity. If the person’s actions are truly out of the law, the order could become permanent. In other circumstances, the person or entity engaging in the activity is doing something illegal, and no hearing is required to determine this. In these cases, judges at various levels of the court may empower to issue an order prohibiting permanent behavior.

Another use of cease-and-desist is when people write letters to others asking them to stop engaging in a certain activity. It could be an infringement of the copyright of an individual or a company, it could be a request to stop defamation or slander, or it could be due to illegal harassment. For example, in many circumstances, a collection agency cannot legally contact a person more than once; after receiving a request, the company refrains from any future contact with the person who owes the money.

Definition of cease and desist

Sometimes the issue is so serious that it has to be applied by the courts, like harassment that threatens violence. Still, usually, when people write these letters, it simply implies that the continuation of activity will lead to legal action.

A common form of these letters is to stop continuing copyright infringement, especially on the Internet. Companies like wise GEEK may often need to write these letters when they find their articles have been copied and used without permission on other people’s websites or other businesses. The first step in this process is to ask people to stop by letter. It could be followed by legal action if the letter is ignored.

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Definition of cease and desist

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