Defendant, Jacob Brighton, does not argue that he shot and killed his parents, but he pleaded “not guilty” anyway. Why would somebody do that? I mean, if you did what the State says you did, then you have no hope of winning at trial, right? Wrong. Our system of justice accounts for certain defenses that an accused may assert to justify their actions.
Unlike an insanity defense, a defense of justification operates to shift the burden to the defendant to prove that even though the underlying act was criminal, the defendant was justified in acting in such a way. A defendant may argue that his action, while wrong and illegal under most circumstances, is justified to avoid a greater danger. If a jury or judge determines that defendant’s act was justified then he is not legally guilty of the charged crime and they must acquit him.
Jacob Brighton’s attorney, former prosecutor Marc Shiner, is seeking to justify his client’s actions to the jury by showing how a greater danger to Jacob was avoided when he killed his parents. The theory of self defense is predicated upon “apparent danger” and not necessarily actual danger. By claiming that Brighton’s parents deserved to be shot Mr. Shiner is laying the groundwork to an affirmative defense of justification. Depending on how convincingly the facts are presented Mr. Shiner may be able to persuade enough jurors to acquit his client of this crime, based upon the notion that Mr. Brighton was justified in acting the way he did.
Under Texas law, the defendant merely needs to prove that he, or a third party, was in apparent danger of deadly force in order to use deadly force. If you or a loved one are charged with a violent crime you need the help of an experienced attorney, because you may have an affirmative defense of justification to the charge. The firm of The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp will investigate any case for the possible defenses afforded you under the law. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.