The truth is that people tend to make mistakes and sometimes, it is vital to take an action in order to protect oneself from harm. When it comes to criminal law, there are many conditions that can help one negate from elements of a crime such as intent. The term defense is normally used in criminal law. Some jurisdictions assign entire burden on the individual to prove that he or she is not guilty, while others require the prosecutor to prove that the person convicted is in fact guilty. Defenses might provide total or partial refuge from the punishment for the crime committed. This is why it is vital that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you get the best result.
This post looks at 12 most common criminal defenses. Keep in mind that not every defense applies to every crime. If you find yourself in a legal situation then it is important that you contact New Haven CT Criminal Defense Attorney. Let’s take a look at the 12 most common criminal defenses.
Wherever you go, you will come across accidents. Accidents happen and there is no way around it. The law recognizes this and often excuses accidental criminal conduct. If you or anyone accidentally commits an act which amounts to crime and you there is no negligence or criminal intent on your part, then you should not have to bear any criminal liability. However, prosecutors might still file charges in some accident cases if they believe that you had criminal intent or were negligent. Criminal negligence is an important term to keep in mind. It is when you act recklessly such as drunk driving for example.
A person needs to prove that he or she was reasonably prudent that is to say that they took actions to ensure that no one gets hurt. As long as the person was not motivated by any criminal purpose and did not act with negligence, their legal defense attorney will be able to help absolve them of their criminal liability.
An alibi is an important term that you should be aware of. It is actually a Latin word which simply means in another place. If you were somewhere else during the time when the crime was committed of which you are accused of, then you simply have an alibi. If your alibi corroborates with credit card receipts, surveillance videos and witnesses, then the allegations against you can be easily refuted.
For instance, it is possible for the police to arrest someone for a bank robbery which took place on Saturday in Alexandria. They might have arrested the person because the description provided by the attendant matched with that person’s description. However, it is possible for that person to have been in Fairfax from Friday to Saturday. He could even have proof of pictures of the reunion, a plane ticket showing that he was at the reunion and people who can testify that he was with them. Therefore, an alibi is a very effective criminal defense.
- Coerced Confessions
The police may not use any type of overbearing measures to get an involuntary confession by coercion. Examples of these include when the police continue asking questions even after one had asked for a lawyer, depriving you of sleep, water or food, and beating you.
Therefore, if anyone confesses due to being coerced then they have the right to seek justice. Innocent people are coerced into making false confessions just to close a case. If the criminal defense attorney is able to prove that the police did in fact coerce the person into making the confession, then the judge would exclude the confession from evidence and the case might get dropped altogether.
- Double Jeopardy
The U.S. Constitution defines double jeopardy in clauses where it states that you will be protected from being prosecuted for the same offense a second time following a conviction or acquittal and protection from having to face multiple punishments for that specific offense. You can read the Criminal Law to better understand double jeopardy.
If anyone commits a crime because they had a reason to believe that their life is in immediate danger, then they are excused from their criminal conduct. Criminal culpability is excused according to duress. Keep in mind that the crime should have been committed because another person’s menacing actions or threats compelled you to act as such.
Duress does not excuse murder. You might not need to kill another person just so that you can save your own. However, if you can prove that it is in self-defense then your charges might get dropped.
Entrapment is when the police or any of their agents were most possibly undercover and they persuaded you into committing a crime. The situation applies where you would not have committed such an offense were it not for the coercion, threats or harassments by the police. Entrapment is common in connection to sting operations operated by undercover officers that are trying to make busts for child pornography, lewd acts in public, selling or possession of illegal substances and prostitution.
It is not that difficult to prove entrapment if in fact you had been a victim of entrapment. The only reason behind committing the alleged crime would be because of the overbearing police conduct. Thus, the charges can be dropped if proven.
- Wrongful Arrest / False Accusation
The truth is that there are many cases where people had been prosecuted based on false allegations. Anger, revenge, jealous and any other motive could lead to attempts in order to cover up their own criminal involvement. It could be because of this that someone might falsely accuse you or any other innocent person of criminal offense. When it comes to domestic violence cases or child abuses cases, false allegations are quite common. This is why you need a good law firm to help reveal the truth and clear your name.
The M’Naghten test is commonly used to determine whether the defendant is actually legally insane. The test looks at right and wrong.
The defense needs to prove that the crime committed by the defendant was due to their inability to understand the act or they could not distinguish between right and wrong. Thus, if proven to be insane, the defendant would be excused from the said conduct. The insanity defense is similar to that of entrapment. It has to be proven by a preponderance of evidence.
The defendant would be admitted to a psychiatric facility if found not guilty on the basis of insanity. The defendant will be admitted until the court is of the view that he or she would not be a threat to society.
- Lack of Probable Cause
According to the US law, the police needs to have a probable cause before they can arrest or detain a person. Probably cause simply means that a cautious and reasonable officer will believe that the criminal activity was or is taking place based on surrounding circumstances. However, if the police detain, arrest, or stop someone without probable cause, then the criminal defense attorney will most likely file a motion of suppress.
At the suppression motion, the criminal defense attorney would ask the court to remove any evidence which had been obtained due to an improper search and seizure. The case be dismissed altogether if the motion is granted.
- Mistaken Identity
Believe it or not, despite living in the 21st century, there are still mistakes that are made by eyewitnesses in identifying the person. This leads to a wrongful conviction which would happen because your clothes, physical description, car resembled that of the actual perpetrator. It could also be due to someone assuming that you are to blame for the criminal offense.
Mistaken eyewitness identification is more common than one might think. It leads to a wrongful conviction and it happens when your physical description that is to say your clothes match that of the actual perpetrator. It is possible that someone assumes that you are to be blamed for a criminal act after seeing your behavior or appearance such as if they see that you bruises and come to believe that you have attacked someone.
- Mistake of Fact
If a person acts under a reasonable and honest mistake of fact, then they are not guilty for committing the crime. For instance, it is possible that you stole a neighbor’s lawnmower believing that it is the one that you had previously lent which had not been returned to you. Then even if your neighbor accuses you, you would not be considered guilty of theft.
Remember, ignorance of law is not an excuse and cannot be used as a defense. This basically means that you cannot break a law because you do not know it. For instance, you cannot serve liquor to a minor even if you do not know that it is against the law.
- Out of Necessity
Necessity is a legal defense which needs to be proven by preponderance of the evidence. In simple words, necessity refers to a criminal conduct committed in order to avoid a greater harm.
If you reasonably believe that you or another person will suffer immense bodily harm and there is no other option but to engage in criminal conduct, then you might get acquittal of such offense.
For instance, if someone is running with a bat in their hand pointed towards you with a clear intention of them wanting to hurt you, then you can break into a home to seek shelter and call 911. Only actions that are done out of necessity are excused.
Other Common Criminal Defenses
There are other common criminal defenses that might apply as well if the above do not apply to you. It is vital that the criminal defense attorney is experienced because it is only then that they would be able to help you.
Parents Right to Discipline a Child
According to the US law, parents are granted the legal right to discipline their children, provided that they act in a reasonable manner. It includes physical punishment. Anyone accused under child abuse law will need to prove that their acts were not unjustified and unreasonable under the circumstances.
Police misconduct is not uncommon. It is possible for police to abuse and use excessive force such as by planting evidence, usage of unnecessary pepper spray or lying about facts in their courtroom testimony. If such acts of police misconduct can be identified then they might help you win the criminal case. It allows the criminal defense attorney to press for civil rights claims and money damages can also be sought.
If someone is unconscious when they commit a crime, then they may be excused of their actions. The criminal defense applies to people who commit criminal acts while they are delirious, sleeping, suffering from an epileptic seizure or are involuntarily intoxicated.
Voluntary and Involuntary Intoxication
Normally, voluntary intoxication cannot be used as a valid criminal defense. But, it might prove whether you possessed the right state of mind to commit a specific crime. The term specific intent is used here which means that you had specifically intended to act out in such a manner, knowing the consequences of your act.
However, if you had been involuntarily intoxicated, then it provides you with a complete defense for just about any crime. This applies if someone had secretly poured a drug into your drink for instance or a doctor had prescribed a sedative without warning about its side effects. You need to prove that you were in fact involuntarily intoxicated and that you did not voluntarily consume any drugs or alcohol as it would debar the defense.
There are various criminal defenses but only your criminal lawyer would be able to choose the right one for you as they have the knowledge over criminal law. Therefore, it is important that you select the best criminal lawyer.