Criminal offenses are viewed harshly and many believe they should be punished fittingly as well; however, someone who has been charged with a criminal offense is not necessarily guilty. An important question for a criminal defense attorney to consider when preparing to defend such charges for a client is what possible defenses could apply to that particular situation? If there is enough evidence that the defendant did not commit the crime, did not intend to commit it, or was otherwise influenced, there may be grounds for a viable defense.
Intent and Awareness
Most people would believe that there is a difference between someone who purposely and maliciously commits a criminal act versus someone who commits one unknowingly, sometimes as a result of coercion or to avoid a more severe result. While all of these circumstances involve an illegal act, the causation behind the acts can help an accused’s defense case.
A criminal defense attorney can discover the facts of the action in question and determine if there are any acceptable defenses to show the action was committed under extenuating circumstances or conditions.
Some Common Criminal Defenses
So, what are some possible criminal defenses? Following is a list of some that could be used by criminal defense attorneys on behalf of their clients:
Self-Defense – If in the act of defending oneself, or a loved one, a person commits a crime such as assault, battery, or homicide, such an act might be considered self-defense. The main argument here is had they not been put a position to fear injury or possibly death, the action would not have happened.
Mistake or Accident – Not every person is aware of all the facts involving an illegal act, which means mistakes or accidents do happen. This defense would be based on a defendant not being aware of committing a crime and doing something accidentally or unintentionally.
Duress – This infers that the defendant committed the crime because they were forced to do it by someone else with the threat of death or serious harm such action was not taken. It must be proven that the threat of harm was actually greater than the crime committed to avoid it.
Restraint – This defense concludes that the person charged was somehow restrained and/or forced to commit the crime unwillingly – whether by natural or human forces.
Entrapment – If the defendant was deceived by a law enforcement official and led to perform an illegal act, it could be considered entrapment. The argument is that the accused was coerced into breaking the law and would not otherwise have committed such an act.
Double Jeopardy – Although there are many ways in which double jeopardy may or may not apply, the basic understanding of this as a defense is that a person cannot be tried twice for the same action or crime. An experienced criminal defense attorney can review the circumstances and advise about using this as a possible defense.
Of course, many questions undoubtedly come to mind regarding using any of the above defenses. Working closely with an attorney who is experienced in criminal defense can help determine if the offense being charged falls into any of the above categories and used in the defense of a criminal action charge.