Defenses Used Against Criminal Charges
- July 21, 2016
- Posted by: Amir Ladan
- Category: Criminal Law Blog
Whenever a person is accused of a crime, it is up to the prosecutor to convince the judge or jury of that person’s guilt. The accused, on the other hand, is allowed to present a defense that shows their innocence in the situation. Innocence doesn’t always mean that nothing occurred, and there are several ways in which a defendant can show that they’re not culpable for a crime.
Negative defenses occur when a defendant alleges that they are outright innocent and had nothing to do with the crime they’re being accused of. These defenses allege that the government arrested the wrong person or that no crime was committed.
Everyone in America has the presumption of innocence when arrested for a crime. This means that in the eyes of the law, a person is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law or until they plead guilty. Defendants don’t even have to actively participate in their trial. They can simply watch the prosecutor present the case and then be released if the jury doesn’t feel that guilt was proven.
In America, for a person to be convicted of a crime, they must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that if a reasonable individual would have any doubt as to a person’s guilt, that person shouldn’t be convicted of the crime. This is a huge burden for prosecutors, and because of its overwhelming nature, many defense attorneys will simply try to introduce reasonable doubt.
There are some times when a person admits that a crime occurred, but alleges that the facts of the case negate their responsibility or at least lessen the charges. There are several defenses of this nature.
Most people have seen this defense on television court shows. If it’s proven that a defendant had no control over their actions or didn’t understand that what they were doing was wrong due to a mental defect, they cannot be held culpable. This defense isn’t used as often as television would have a person believe, but it is an important defense when warranted.
Most people have also seen self-defense defenses on television courtroom dramas. If it’s proven that a defendant acted solely in self-defense, they cannot be held criminally culpable. If a person kills someone who was going to kill them, for instance, then it’s usually understood that they committed no crime.
Regardless of what a person is charged with, they are entitled to an adept legal defense. Though it seems strange to consider, all defenses can be put into just a few categories. A criminal defense attorney has the job of considering all of these possible defenses and choosing which will result in the best outcome for their client.