If you have been accused of a crime, you will have to appear in court. The accused in this situation is known as the defendant. As the defendant, you and your criminal attorney will most likely want to establish some form of a criminal defense to prevent a guilty verdict. A criminal defense is a strategic argument that attempts to challenge the validity and sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence. This is not the same as ending up in Las Vegas traffic court, as this would not be considered a criminal charge. The prosecution is the party trying to prove the criminal charges against you.
Some criminal defenses attempt to strike down the prosecution’s evidence by showing that it is false, this is Affirmative Criminal Defense. However, there are numerous types of defenses that accept some of the prosecution’s evidence as true. Affirmative defenses require that the defendant, along with his or her criminal attorney, produce evidence in support of the defense. The type of defense that you and your attorney choose to pursue will depend, in part, on the crime you are being accused of committing, as well as the evidence available to you.
Despite the popularity given to the Insanity Defense by television shows and movies, this is not used frequently nor is it often successful. This defense states that you committed the alleged crime but had not known that what you did was wrong. To successfully use this defense, you must have had a severe mental disease or defect at the time the crime was committed. Clear and convincing evidence that you have such a mental issue resulted in your misunderstanding that your actions were wrong. Relying on the insanity defense is extremely risky. By using it, you are also admitting that you committed a crime. This means that if the jury rejects your claim to insanity, it will likely find you guilty. Before using this criminal defense, consult your criminal lawyer.
Coercion and duress is an affirmative criminal defense that basically says you were forced to commit a crime because you were threatened with unlawful force. This unlawful force does not have to occur, merely the threat of unlawful force can be enough to satisfy the coercion defense. The force or threat of force does not have to be threatened against the individual accused of the crime. Rather, it could have been used against or threatened against another individual, such as a family member. The coercion and duress defense cannot be invoked if your reckless actions put you in the situation that caused duress.
Abandonment and withdrawal is another type of criminal defense available to defendants. This defense is also referred to as renunciation. Basically this states that you were going to commit a crime or be an accomplice to a crime but then decided to abandon any involvement. It is technically an affirmative defense, so you and your attorney must provide evidence to prove that abandonment occurred. In addition, for the abandonment and withdrawal defense to be effective, your actions prior to withdrawing from the crime must not have in any way contributed to the crime, or you must have notified the police in advanced of the crime.
Other Criminal Defenses include: self-defense, consent, intoxication, stature of limitations.