When a defendant stands trial, the prosecution attempts to prove the defendant guilty as charged. In reality, most cases are not so black and white and criminal defense attorney frequently must argue the case with what is called an affirmative defense. If an attorney can demonstrate that a crime was committed either unintentionally or because a defendant had no other option, the courts may agree with this defense and choose to reduce the charges, drop charges, or lessen the punishment.
What is An Affirmative Defense?
A person may be accused of a crime and face criminal charges; however, the act that was committed may have been done under unique circumstances. If someone acts in self-defense or otherwise feels there is no other choice without risking their own injury, death, or another harsh consequence, that act may be considered as an affirmative action taken in one’s own defense. After the prosecution has presented their case, a defendant’s criminal defense attorney can use an affirmative defense to argue against the complaint.
If an attorney can convince the court that a defendant feared personal harm or was somehow unaware of their actions due to intoxication or insanity, this may help the case. Claims of duress, acting in the defense of others, and entrapment are also considered to be affirmative defenses. A criminal defense attorney with sufficient supporting evidence can prove that what happened was unintentional or not the entire fault of the defendant.
Acknowledgment of Guilt
An experienced defense attorney points out that an affirmative defense may be a client’s best defense; however, it is also important to understand that using this defense is an acknowledgment of guilt. The defendant is agreeing that the act did take place as charged, although the arguments is that there was either no other choice or that they had no control over themselves at the time, making them less aware of the action.
If self-defense, insanity, entrapment, or another reason is proven, it is possible for charges to be dropped despite an admission of guilt. Other times, this admission and defense may lead to a reduction in charges to something less severe. If this defense is not accepted, the trial continues with the knowledge ahead of time that using an affirmative defense is an admission of guilt. If a plea of insanity is entered and accepted, the defendant may have charges dropped or receive lesser charges, but may also be required to enter some kind of treatment program or undergo psychiatric counseling.
Asserting an affirmative defense is one way that an experienced criminal defense attorney can help a client who willingly acknowledges their part in a chargeable offense but argues the motivation behind their involvement as a defense. If there is sufficient supporting evidence, a defense attorney who has years of experience in this area of the law can show the court that the defendant was adversely influenced and acted either in self-defense or was unable to comprehend their actions;hopefully, charges will be dropped or at least reduced.
Reynaldo G. Garza, III
680 E. St Charles, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520