Each case is different, but here we present some of the most common defenses against a criminal charge.
In order to convict him of a criminal charge, the prosecutor must prove his guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. This is a fairly high standard, and during any trial, the defendant can present a defense in order to raise a reasonable doubt. Most defenses integrate one of two categories:
- I did not do it or
- I did it, but I should not be held responsible.
If you are charged with a crime, it is important that you contact a criminal lawyer immediately to protect and analyze your rights.
1. I did not do it
The most basic defense against any charge of a criminal nature is simply to prove that you did not do it.
Innocent until proven otherwise
One of the distinguishing features of the American legal system is the presumption that everyone is innocent until proven otherwise. This is not just an ideal, it is a real legal presumption, which means that the judge and the jury must assume that you are innocent until proven otherwise. This is why a defendant can “plead the fifth amendment”, remain silent and not offer any evidence to support his declaration of innocence and still succeed. It is the job of the prosecution to prove that a defendant is guilty, not the defendant’s job to prove that he is innocent. So, what does a prosecutor have to prove?
Beyond a reasonable doubt
The prosecutor must show the judge or jury that there is no reasonable doubt of his guilt. In case a reasonable doubt can be shown, some at all, the prosecutor has failed and you must be found innocent. Because this standard is so high, most of the accused concentrate on making reasonable doubts about the allegations of the prosecution.
I have an alibi
One of the main ways in which the accused establish that they did not do so is by demonstrating that they could not have done so. An alibi defense consists of evidence that you were in another place, often with another person, and that, therefore, you could not have been the perpetrator of the crime. Proving to a judge or jury that you are not likely to be present at the scene of the crime will give rise to a reasonable doubt of your guilt.
2. I Did It, But I Should Not Be Considered Responsible
Many accused admit that they committed the act, but state that for one reason or another they should not be held responsible. Here are some examples of this type of defense:
It is a common defense when someone is accused of causing some kind of physical violence (assault, assault, etc.). The defendant reverses the story and demonstrates that instead of being the aggressor, he was actually the victim and was acting to protect himself from harm.
Self-defense is an old defense that exists in most legal systems, and is based on the belief that people have the right to defend themselves against physical injury. Demonstrating this defense can be complicated, since a defendant will generally have to prove that self-defense was necessary, that the belief of possible physical harm was reasonable and that the response was reasonable. For example, if you shoot an attacker in response to the threat of hitting him, this is almost certainly an irrational response.
Defense for dementia
While it makes TV dramas fascinating, defendants in real life rarely claim insanity as a defense. Judges and juries are very skeptical of these statements, and because of the abstract nature of this defense, it can be very difficult to prove.
The theory behind a dementia defense is the notion that in almost all criminal laws there is a “mental” or “intention” element. Often, the necessary mental state is that you must have intended to commit the criminal act. If a defendant does not have an understanding of what he is doing because of a mental illness, then he can not have the mental state that the criminal accusation requires. From a political point of view, we also tend to think that it would be more appropriate to send someone who is truly demented to a psychiatric center, not to prison. Therefore, even if the defendant is successful in a defense for dementia, they will send him to a psychiatric institution, they will not release him.
So, how do courts define “dementia”? The most popular definition is the McNaughten test that defines dementia as “the inability to distinguish between good and evil.” To succeed in a defense for insanity, the defendant will have the testimony of a psychiatrist and will be subjected to extensive psychiatric tests that can be painful and humiliating.
Defense for being under the influence of substances
In relation to the defense of dementia, some defendants defend themselves by claiming that they were under the influence of drugs and that they could not have had the mental state necessary to commit the crime. In other words, they were very drugged to know what they were doing. Only a few states allow this defense, and even then, it is only a partial defense. At best, it will reduce the offense of which a misdemeanor is found guilty.
Defense by shock
The defense by celada is appropriate when a government official induces him to commit a crime. The most common examples of this are the raids against prostitution or the sale of drugs. The theory is that the government should not allow them to incite him to commit a crime and then condemn him for it.
This defense will not succeed if the judge or jury believes that he was in any way predisposed to commit the crime. So, even if an undercover officer offered to sell you illegal drugs, it is likely that a cover-up defense will not take effect if you have a history of drug abuse.
How to Get Legal Help
The process of criminal law can be very difficult with a lot of stress. If you are accused of a crime, it is important that you contact a criminal lawyer immediately to protect and analyze your rights.
Speak Today with a Qualified Lawyer in Criminal Law
This article aims to be useful and informative. But legal issues can be complicated and stressful. A qualified criminal law attorney can meet your particular legal needs, explain the law and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a qualified criminal law attorney near you to discuss your specific legal situation.