Criminal offense comes with consequences that can be severe and life altering. In order to avoid a criminal conviction or to lessen the severity of a defendant’s criminal sentence, it is vital for the defense lawyer to utilize an appropriate criminal defense.
There are several sorts of criminal defenses that a defense lawyer might use. Most of the time, the defense that is chosen will be based upon the situations surrounding the case and the evidence that is provided by the prosecution. A defense attorney will try to convince the jury that his/her client had no role in the crime committed. Nevertheless, if the evidence strongly indicates otherwise, the defense attorney might go for affirmative criminal defense, so as to moderate his/her client’s liability. If this is fruitful, the defendant’s conviction and subsequent sentence will probably be less severe.
Some of the common criminal defense facts include:
- The defendant did not understand the significance of the criminal actions
A defense attorney can argue that the defendant cannot be found guilty for the crime because he or she did not understand what he or she was doing or that his or her actions were wrong. Under this, there is the defense of insanity which requires the defendant to prove that either he or she had a mental disorder that rendered him or her incompetent of differentiating right from wrong, or that it hindered him or her from understanding his or her actions and defying aggressive impulses.
Equally, the defense of intoxication is also based on the theory that the defendant can’t meet all of the elements of the crime because he or she did not understand what he or she was doing. A defendant that is involuntarily intoxicated can result to a defense to both general and particular intent crimes under the theory that the intoxication hinders the defendant from understanding right and wrong. Another defense is voluntary intoxication which applies to certain intent crimes when the defendant argues that his or her intoxication hindered him or her from developing the intent necessary for the crime.
Lastly, a defendant may be able to argue mistake of law/ mistake of fact. This defense involves the defendant making a primary mistake that negates an element of the crime. Mistake of law applies in only very limited situations when a defendant believed his or her actions were legitimate.
- The defendant was justified in his or her actions
Another class of criminal defenses applies when the defendant committed the crime but argues that he or she was justified in doing so. Self-defense is the most recognized kind of this defense. Likewise, under a defense of duress, the criminal defendant argues that he or she only committed the crime because he or she was forced to do so by another individual. Lastly, under a necessity defense, the defendant may argue that he or she committed the crime so as to avoid a more severe damage.
- No criminal act was committed
A number of defenses can be used to argue that although it appears there was a crime, the defendant did not actually commit a criminal act. First, the defendant may argue that no crime happened because of the defense of consent. Second, a defendant can declare the defense of abandonment/ withdrawal if he or she originally planned to commit a crime but later had a change of heart and didn’t. Third, the defendant may argue entrapment which happens when the state induces someone to commit a crime and then attempts to punish the individual in question for it. The defendant may argue that no crime would have happened but for the state’s inducement, and he or she should therefore not be held accountable.