Someone who has been charged with a crime is limited in the types of defense or arguments he or she can present in court. Understanding these defenses can help a person accused of a crime understand the kinds of evidence and testimony their lawyer is looking for in building their case.
Of course, it's also important to realize that a person charged with a crime is not required to prove their innocence. It is up to the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. However, it is often helpful for the defendant to present evidence and testimony that challenges the prosecutor's evidence and creates doubts about whether the defendant is guilty in the minds of the judge and jury.
The following are defenses a defendant and his/her lawyer can argue against almost any crime.
Alibi — This common defense involves evidence or testimony that shows the defendant couldn't possibly have committed the crime because he or she was irrefutably someplace else. Usually this requires more than the defendant stating that he or she was someplace. Testimony of one or more believable witnesses or evidence like a video tape showing the defendant in a particular place at a particular time or something similar is usually required to cast doubt on prosecutors' evidence. The more convincing the prosecutor's evidence is, the more convincing evidence of an alibi must be.
Insubstantial evidence — Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty, but sometimes defendants have to show why prosecutors' evidence isn't sufficient to prove guilt. Finger prints on a murder weapon seem pretty condemning until its revealed that the weapon, let's say a gun, belonged to the defendant but turned up missing two days before the murder. A police report about the missing weapon could cast serious doubt on whether the fingerprints proved guilt.
Self-defense — This defense could be used against allegations of assault, battery, murder, manslaughter or similar charges if the alleged victim was actually the aggressor and the defendant was just trying to protect him/herself. However, this defense can backfire if the violence committed by the defendant exceeded that necessary for protection. For example, continuing to beat an attacker after rendering them helpless or unconscious could still result in a criminal charge.
Mutual combat — If two people knowingly and willingly enter into a fight, it can sometimes be argued that neither has a right to complain against the other for blows struck. This is not a common defense in the courtroom, but can often be employed to convince prosecutors to drop or reduce a charge when facts of the case support it.
Insanity — This defense claims that the defendant didn't have control of himself at the time of the crime and/or couldn't discern that the actions leading to the crime were wrong. However, it also admits that the defendant committed the alleged criminal actions. It is immaterial whether the "insanity" was temporary or permanent, but usually it must be corroborated by testimony, including testimony by a psychology expert who has examined the defendant unless the fact is stipulated or conceded by the prosecutor. Additionally, in most states, self-induced temporary insanity, due to the voluntary ingestion of controlled substances for example, is not a defense to criminal conduct.
Intoxication — This defense argues that the defendant was too drunk or high to know better. As with the insanity defense, an intoxication defense admits the defendant committed the alleged actions. This defense is rarely successful as people are generally held responsible for actions they take when voluntarily intoxicated. However, in the case of someone drugged unknowingly it could be a legitimate defense. Conceivably, it could also be used in a case in which someone who got drunk in an environment they reasonably believed would be free of the potential for the crime and then was provoked to criminal action. For example if someone was drinking at home with a friend and a third person invited by the friend walked into the house, but the intoxicated home owner assaulted that person thinking they were an intruder when a sober person would not have done so, then intoxication might be a valid defense to the prosecutor's 'should have known' argument.
Entrapment — This defense is employed when law enforcement entices someone to commit a crime they wouldn't ordinarily have committed on their own and then arrests them for the crime. For example, an undercover officer who talks someone into selling drugs even though they've never done it before and are resistant to it would be a case of entrapment.
Charged with a Crime? Let an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Help You Identify the Appropriate Defense and Build the Strongest Case Possible.
The criminal defense attorneys at Stinson Law Group have extensive experience helping people charged with crimes build a strong defense and protect their rights. If you've been charged with a crime in Wyoming or Montana, Stinson Law Group can help. In some cases we can even get charges dropped all together. Call the criminal defense lawyers at Stinson Law Group toll free today for a free consultation: (888) 527-6090.