Defenses to Crimes

Lea en español

Defenses to Crimes
The defenses raised in criminal cases generally fall into two categories: you did not commit the crime, or you committed the crime, but should not be held responsible.

Defenses Based on a Claim of Innocence

The most powerful defense when you did not commit the crime is the establishment of a solid alibi. With an alibi, you have either eyewitness, testimony, or documentary evidence, such as hotel, restaurant, or other receipts, that places you somewhere else at the time of the commission of the crime.
Even if you do not have direct documentary or testimonial evidence absolving you, you can offer circumstantial evidence in your defense. Circumstantial evidence asks a jury to make a reasonable inference from all the evidence that you could not have committed the crime. The courts also accept testimony regarding your character, but this type of evidence is highly subjective.

Defenses Based on an Acknowledgement that You Committed the Act

Even if you admit that you committed the act prohibited by law, you may be entitled to acquittal based on certain defenses:

  • Justification.This defense includes an admission of the act, but contends that you were legally justified in taking the action. Typical arguments include self-defense, the defense of others, and the need to defend your home or property from intruders. With self-defense claims, the courts will typically question whether you responded to the threat with reasonable force.
  • Excuse.These defenses customarily reflect a lack of legal capacity—i.e., that you did not understand that what you were doing was illegal. The types of defenses that fall under this category include insanity, age, mental incompetence, involuntary intoxication, duress, or any other instance of diminished capacity.

Procedural Defenses

You can also ask the court to acquit you if law enforcement officers or prosecutors violated your rights during the criminal process. Examples include entrapment, double jeopardy, prosecutor misconduct, jury tampering, selective prosecution (racial profiling), and violation of any of your constitutional protections.

Latest Articles

Divorce and Taxes

  If you are facing a divorce, you know that there are plenty of difficult, even painful questi…

07 Dec 2018, Friday

Legalizing Recreational Marijuana: A New State Revolution?

  Election night 2018 brought about several changes in the legal landscape, but probably none s…

06 Dec 2018, Thursday

The State(s) of Medicaid Expansion

  In 2012, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) made some sweeping chang…

05 Dec 2018, Wednesday