Common Defenses Against a Criminal Charge

When a person and his attorney undertake a criminal defense, they will generally fall into two separate categories: The “I didn’t do it” category and “I did it, but shouldn’t be held responsible” category. Although, every defense will need to be tailored to the specific circumstances, they will almost always fall into one of these broad categories. Although these defenses are listed, it is always advisable to seek the input and help from an experienced criminal defense attorney.

The “I Didn’t Do It” Category

In criminal law, a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. This means that the prosecution must prove that the defendant committed the crime. The first category relies on the prosecution’s inability to actually prove that the defendant committed this particular crime.

Before a person can be convicted of a crime, the prosecution must prove that the defendant committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This standard is extremely high and may be a high hurdle for the prosecution to overcome. The first common defense basically stems from the idea that the prosecution cannot convince all of the members of the jury or the judge that the defendant actually committed the crime.

Another primary way for the defendant to prove that he didn’t commit the crime is to provide an alibi for the crime. An alibi will show that the defendant was present at a different place during the time the crime was committed.

The “I Did It, But I Shouldn’t Be Legally Responsible” Category

For this category of criminal defenses, the defendant will admit that he committed the crime. However, the defendant will claim that his reasons for committing the crime absolve him from guilt and that he should not be held responsible. The main reasons to not hold a person responsible for a crime are as follows:

  • Self-defense: This defense is commonly used for charges involving physical violence. A person has the right to defend himself and to defend others when he is faced with physical violence from another.
  • Insanity: Insanity is a very difficult defense and relies on the defendant failing to distinguish between right and wrong. This defense will require expert testimony from a psychiatrist.
  • Entrapment: If the government induces a person to commit a crime, then the entrapment defense will apply. The government should not be able to coerce a person to commit a crime, and then bring charges against the person.

All of these defenses will have tricky legal components that should be discussed with an attorney. To discuss a specific defense to a crime, request a free consultation from The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp at 713-868-6100.