What Are The Most Common Criminal Defenses

When a person (the defendant) is accused of committing a crime and is being charged to court, a prosecutor must prove with relevant evidence that the defendant is guilty as charged beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant however has a right to present a defense through their defense attorney.

For criminal defense in Mesa, hiring a reputable and highly experienced criminal defense attorney should be your ultimate goal. 

What Exactly Is Criminal Defense?

Criminal defense is a well-placed argument that attempts to challenge and negate the credibility and sufficiency of the evidence of the prosecuting attorney. 

Most times, it is done to nullify the evidence against the defendant. Although the defendant can admit to the crime (affirmative criminal defense).

Criminal defense is vital in guaranteeing that the defendant doesn’t receive punishment beyond what is deserved. However, if the defense fails, it is within the jurisdiction of the judge to reduce the punishment during the sentencing phase of the trial.

Common Criminal Defenses

Defense Based On Justification

One of the most common criminal defenses is a defense based on justification where the defendants admit to the crime but feel justified in their actions.

It is divided into three categories. The defense of self-defense which is the most prominent, defense of duress and necessity defense.

  • Self-defense 

Here, the defendants admit to the crime but may argue that they did so to protect themselves or others. It is often seen in cases of domestic violence or assault which usually involve the use of self defense weapons.

For instance, in a situation where the defendant shoots an intruder, he may argue that he did so because the intruder threatened him with a knife.

Defense of duress

Similar to self-defense, the defendant may argue that they committed the crime only because they were coerced by another person. 

For instance, the defendant may argue that he burgled a store because he was forced to do so by the co-defendant, and if he didn’t do so, his life would be at risk.

Necessity Defense

Here, the defendants may argue that they committed a crime to stop imminent harm from happening. 

For instance, the defendant may argue that for him to chase and stop someone with an explosive, he had to snatch a car. Else, the explosives could be detonated resulting in loss of lives and property.

Defense attorneys often use the defense of justification when there’s clear proof that the defendant had to ensure their safety or that of others such as physical injuries sustained during the incidents. 

False Arrest 

Defense attorneys often examine the surrounding circumstances that led to the defendant’s arrest before they dig into the case fully. If there is evidence that complete protocol was not followed by the police during the arrest, they may argue that there was a false arrest and the charges are most likely to be dropped.

Lack of Evidence 

Before a defendant can be sentenced, the prosecuting attorney has to provide sufficient evidence that proves the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, if he is not able to prove it for lack of evidence, the case may be dismissed.

Innocence or Mistaken Identity 

This is one of the simplest criminal defenses. It is often used when the defendant did not commit the crime and also when the evidence against the defendant is unclear.

The defendant can also provide documents, testimonies, and other evidence that supports his innocence. 

This can also be used when the defendant has an alibi that can prove that they were somewhere else other than the crime scene during the time the crime happened.

However, they must have supporting evidence such as surveillance footage, phone records, or receipts from a movie theatre, restaurant, or store. 

Involuntary Intoxication

This is a lack of intent defense. It’s used when the defendant is intoxicated and is not accountable for any of their actions.

In this scenario, the intoxication is involuntary as they did take any deliberate action to be intoxicated. It could be that their food or drink was laced with a narcotic.

Abandonment / Withdrawal

This defense can be used when the defendant intended to commit a crime but changed his mind later on and withdrew from participating in the crime. 

The defendant must show that he successfully withdrew from the crime before it happened and that his actions before the crime did not aid the occurrence of the crime. Most times it could be that the defendant notified the appropriate authorities of the planned crime before its execution.

Richard Maxwell

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