What Are The Four Major Criminal Law Defenses?

What Are The Four Major Criminal Law Defenses?

July 26, 2022 Off By Glespynorson

A criminal charge can leave you in a spot of bother, especially if the jury returns the ‘guilty verdict.’ And while you may use various strategies to argue your case, the eventual outcome largely depends on your circumstances, including the strength of your defense team. This also explains why it pays to have a reputable Phoenix criminal defense lawyer in your corner. Plus, the facts of the case can impact the success of the strategy you adopt.

All the same, what are the main criminal law defenses your attorney can help you put forth? Let’s go over four approaches your attorney may help you consider if you’re facing a criminal charge. That way, you can better understand what to expect and how to approach your case.

1. The Crime Never Took Place(Innocence)

One common defense is that the crime in question never took place. This can be difficult to prove, but it may be possible to show that you weren’t even at the scene of the purported crime.

Usually, you can raise this defense if you have an ironclad alibi that puts you in a completely different place at the time the crime occurred. For example, proving that you were at work or with someone else during the time in question may show that you couldn’t have committed the crime.

Remember, the onus is on the prosecution to prove beyond doubt every element relating to the crime they claim you committed. Put plainly, the burden of proof is not on you. But, you may opt to give testimony or provide documentary evidence as you plead your innocence. Anything you can produce to support your claim of innocence would help.

While at it, you’ll need to work with your criminal attorney to create a defense strategy- it’s not just about claiming your innocence. For instance, your lawyer can invite your alibi as a witness in your defense. Your attorney may also poke holes in the prosecution’s case against you to create reasonable doubt. Also, they may work to show that someone else is to blame for the crime by providing evidence to that effect.

2. You Were Not in Your Right Mind (Insanity)

In some cases, it may be possible to show that you were not in control of your actions when the crime occurred. This is known as an “insanity defense.” To successfully use this approach, you’ll need to provide evidence that you could not tell right from wrong at the time of the offense.

In short, you’ll have to prove that you could not understand what you were doing. In some cases, it may also be possible to show that a mental illness caused you to act in a certain way. For instance, you may have been experiencing delusions that made you violate the law.

However, an insanity defense may not get you off the hook. This is particularly because it can be difficult to prove that someone was not in control of their actions when they committed an illegal act. Also, this approach requires a detailed evaluation by a mental health professional. As a result, you would have to waive your right to doctor-client privilege.

That also implies your criminal attorney has their work cut out while trying to implement this strategy. Adopting this approach implies that you’re admitting the crime but claim to alleviate circumstances that should excuse you- in this case, due to insanity at the time you committed the felony. As such, if your defense attorney pulls out all the stops but falters, you will most likely be in a tight spot due to self-incriminating evidence.

4 Main Categories of Criminal Defenses | Affordable Criminal Attorney San  Diego

3. Your Rights Were Violated (Constitutional Violation)

Whether guilty or not, everyone is entitled to various protections provided by the US constitution. A constitutional violation is not uncommon, especially in criminal cases, and usually relates to the treatment meted out to defendants.

As such, this defense argues that the police violated the defendant’s rights during the investigation. Also, your criminal attorney may argue against the circumstances surrounding your arrest, including the collection and handling of evidence against you. The defense attorney can claim that evidence against you is inadmissible. Here are some of the potential constitutional violations that can get charges against you dropped:

  • Failure to obtain a warrant.
  • Coercing you to make a confession.
  • Unreasonable intrusion and illegal search.
  • Holding inadmissible evidence after breaking its chain of custody.

To prove a violation of your rights, you must show that the police acted outside their authority. If you successfully prove this defense, the presiding judge is likely to set you free.

However, you will still be subject to prosecution if your defense is unsuccessful. And while constitutional violation as a defense is difficult to win, it can be effective in cases where the police have acted improperly.

4. You Did It to Defend Others or Yourself (Self Defense)

If you reasonably believed that someone was about to harm you, it may be possible to show that your actions were in self-defense. This defense may also apply if you reasonably believed someone was about to harm another person and intervened to protect them. In such a case, you may be able to show that your actions were in defense of others and, thus, justifiable.

Keep in mind that the amount of force you used must have been reasonable under the circumstances. Also, you can’t have provoked the other person or instigated the violence. For example, if someone threw a punch at you and you responded by hitting them with a baseball bat, this would not be considered a reasonable force.

But, using deadly force may be deemed reasonable in some cases. For instance, Arizona allows the use of deadly force if reasonable and necessary to avert a serious crime, including a home invasion. If a burglar breaks into your home in the dead of night, it’s safe to assume that they may harm you if you notice the intrusion.

If it’s immediately necessary to deal with the threat by using deadly force, the court may admit your defense. Still, your attorney must prepare thoroughly to provide a good basis for your defense.

All in all, navigating the legal framework of criminal law, including its nuances, requires expert hands. Thus, hiring a legal representative is a critical step in starting your fight for a favorable outcome. And with a solid defense team on your side, you can determine the ideal approach to adopt.