Legal & Regulatory

Everything You Need to Know About the 4 Major Criminal Defenses

(Credit: 4711018 from Pixabay) Everything You Need to Know About the 4 Major Criminal Defenses
December 23
3:57 PM 2021

Anyone accused of a crime must appear in court. As a defendant, that person and their attorney will likely attempt to establish a defense to prevent an unfavorable outcome. Criminal defenses are strategic arguments that attempt to challenge the sufficiency and validity of the prosecution's evidence. Here, we'll discuss the commonly used criminal defenses.

The Affirmative Defense

Some defenses used by an attorney from the Strom Law Firm try to eliminate the prosecution's evidence by proving it false. However, some defenses accept the authenticity of that evidence and are known as affirmative defenses. An affirmative defense requires the defendant and their attorney to provide supporting evidence.

Insanity Defenses

Made popular in countless movies and TV shoes, the insanity defense is uncommon and rarely successful. To use this defense, an attorney must state that their client committed the crime but didn't realize their actions were wrong.

To mount a successful insanity defense, the defendant must have a mental defect at the time of an offense, and an attorney must present convincing evidence that the defect caused the client to fail to realize that their acts were wrong. Relying on such a defense can be risky, and if it's rejected, a guilty verdict is likely.

Duress and Coercion

These are affirmative criminal defenses that say a person was forced to commit criminal acts because of the threat of unlawful force. The act doesn't have to occur; the mere threat of it is enough to satisfy the defense. However, this defense can't be invoked if a person's actions put them in the situation that caused the duress.

Withdrawal and Abandonment

The defense of withdrawal and abandonment is another type available to criminal defendants. It's also known as renunciation. Here, a defendant states that they were going to be an accomplice to a crime, or commit one themselves, but decided to step away. It's much like an affirmative defense in that a defendant must prove that an abandonment occurred.

Additionally, for a withdrawal and abandonment defense to work, a person's actions beforehand must not have contributed to the offense or the person must have notified the authorities ahead of time.

Other Defenses

There are a few other defenses a criminal defendant can use to avoid a guilty verdict and the potential prison time that comes with it. Some of the most common defenses used in criminal cases include:

  • Self-defense. Here, a defendant states that their otherwise criminal actions were necessary in the defense of their own life or safety.

  • Consent. In this defense, the defendant acknowledges their acts but states that the alleged victim gave their consent.

  • Intoxication. While intoxication won't clear a person of most offenses, it can negate some elements of a crime.

  • The statute of limitations. In this defense, an attorney will state that the prosecution has exceeded the time limit within which criminal charges can be brought and those charges must be dropped.

The criminal defense a client chooses to use depends on the nature of the alleged offense and the evidence their attorney can access. Whether it's a misdemeanor or a more serious crime, it's important to work closely with your attorney to form a defense strategy. Call or click today to schedule a free consultation with a local criminal defense lawyer.

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