Common Defenses Used In Criminal Law

If you have been faced with your first misdemeanor or felony, you may be confused or unsure of what your choices are regarding defending yourself. Luckily, charges can be greatly reduced with an effective criminal defense attorney, who can help you develop the appropriate defense for your charge. Let’s take a look at what some defenses used are in criminal law cases.

First, defenses are divided into two categories, pleading that you did do it or pleading that you did not do it. Each category comes with a variety of defenses that can help minimize punishments.

I Didn’t Do It

This is the most basic defense used in criminal defense cases. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but generally is safer to use. Saying you didn’t commit the crime means the prosecutor will not be able to gather enough evidence to prove you are guilty. Here are three concepts involved with this defense:
  • Innocent until proven guilty
    It’s not your job to prove your innocence; it’s the job of the prosecutor to prove you’re guilty. This is why pleading the fifth is acceptable. The judge has to start a case assuming you’re innocent, and the prosecutor has to convince him or her that you are responsible for the given crime.

  •  Guilty beyond reasonable doubt
    Not only must a prosecutor convince the judge of your guilt, but he must prove there is absolutely no reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the crime. This is why if you don’t plead the fifth, it’s smart to try to prove some type of reasonable doubt to win your case.

  • Having an alibi
    An alibi is what will often prove your innocence. If you can prove you were elsewhere, often by a witness who was with you at the time of the crime, you can prove you weren’t involved.

I Did Do It, But I’m Not Liable

This type of dense is more complicated, and should only be used under careful conditions.
  • Self-defense
    If you can prove that the crime was committed because it was your only method of defending yourself, you may win your case. However, the self-defense tactic must be appropriate for the threat bestowed upon you. For example, shooting someone who tries taking your wallet would not be appropriate. However, it would be applicable if someone is defending themselves against rape or is held at gunpoint. Basically, rather than viewing the defendant as a criminal, the judge sees him or her as a victim.

  • Insanity
    Insanity pleas are not as common as Hollywood likes to make them out to be, and is rarely used due to the skepticism people have when it’s used. When you plead insanity, you are basically saying you have a mental illness that prevented you from knowing what you were doing when the crime was committed. This plea may seem like a pathetic cop-out for many, but know that pleading insanity will not set you free. While you won’t see a prison, you will be held in a psychiatric facility. Insanity is determined by the courts when a psychiatrist can give a medical testimony on behalf of the defendant, explaining why he or she cannot tell a difference from right and wrong. Additional tests are performed.

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