9 General Defenses To Criminal Responsibility

In some cases, you can rely on several criminal defenses to get out of responsibility for a crime. Some of the best possible ways to avoid criminal responsibility for charges against you include those listed below.

Talk to your criminal defense attorney in detail about your case and that will give you the best chance of a strong defense.

Criminal Defense Overview

Criminal defense is a legal argument that tries to challenge whatever evidence the prosecuting attorney has against you. The attorney, sometimes known as the state, is the individual that attempts to convict you of charges.

The prosecutor is required to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But your criminal defense attorney will construct a legal argument using one or more of the strategies outlined below.

The hope is to get the case against you dismissed or the charges reduced to something with a less severe penalty.

1. You’re Innocent

The most common criminal defense argument is the defendant is innocent. If you truly did not commit the crime you’re accused of and there’s ample evidence proving this, your attorney may make this argument.

Claiming innocence can be effective for some charges because the prosecutor must meet a high burden of proof in a criminal case. Beyond a reasonable doubt is a high bar to clear and if there is any doubt about the case, your attorney may attempt to prove your innocence.

2. You Were Coerced

This defense strategy involves someone making a threat against you unless you commit an act you don’t want to comment. This essentially means you had to commit the crime or suffer adverse consequences.

For example, a criminal could kidnap one of your family members and coerce you to commit a crime under threat of bodily harm to your loved one.

3. You Have A Robust Alibi

Some criminal law defenses, such as an alibi, are what is called an affirmative defense. This means you have to prove that you have an alibi for the defense to work.

So, you and your attorney must prove that you weren’t in the place at the time the alleged crime was committed.

To prove your alibi, the criminal defense lawyer may rely on testimony from a reliable person who states that you were with them when the crime happened.

Or, perhaps your attorney can bring in video evidence from a public place that shows you weren’t at the crime scene.

4. You Acted In Self-Defense

If you have been charged with a violent crime, such as murder or assault, self-defense is a possible defense. This defense is often used to justify violence that was being committed or about to be committed against a defendant.

However, the amount of force you used needs to be considered reasonable, which is usually the same or less than what was being committed against you.

For example, if you are attacked by someone with a knife, shooting the person could be considered self-defense. But if the person threw a book at you and you shot them, that may not be an effective defense strategy.

5. You Acted In Defense Of Others

Another popular defense is you used force against someone else to protect another person. This could be effective if you were forced to use violence to prevent violence against another.

The person you were defending could be anyone, such as a spouse, child, or a stranger. For example, if someone attacks a stranger on a bus and you commit violence to stop the act, this could be an effective defense strategy.

6. Your Rights Were Violated

The United Constitution has certain rights that safeguard us from unreasonable interference and intrusion from the US and state governments.

Let’s say you are charged with possession of a gram of cocaine from a traffic stop. But law enforcement may not have had probable cause to stop your vehicle. If your attorney can prove they had no probable cause to pull you over, the state’s evidence could be deemed inadmissible.

Or, the police officer may have forgotten to read you your rights in the heat of the moment. If so, the entire stop could be inadmissible in court.

7. You Were Defending Property

Like self-defense, you may argue that you used violence to protect your property, such as a vehicle or home.

However, there are limits to how much force you can use to defend property. If you shoot someone who is caught in the act of breaking your windshield, for example, this defense could be ineffective.

The amount of force used to defend your property cannot usually be lethal or deemed excessive.

8. You Abandoned And Withdrew

In some cases, the accused decided to commit a crime, but didn’t go through with it; they abandoned and withdrew from the action. But your would-be accomplices may decide to commit the crime.

Your attorney may be able to show evidence that you knew about the crime but decided not to participate. You could still be charged with a lesser crime, but not going through with the act could make a huge difference in your penalty.

9. The Statute Of Limitations Has Expired

Most crimes, outside of the most violent ones, have a statute of limitations on when the prosecution can bring criminal charges. If too much time expires, the statute of limitations may have expired.

For example, the statute of limitations to bring criminal charges in Texas in a fraud case is four years. But it’s seven years if there are arson charges.

If you had a crime committed against you, it’s important to find an attorney quickly so they have as much time as possible to build a case.

There are many ways a skilled criminal defense attorney can defend you successfully against criminal charges. Remember to select a highly skilled criminal defense attorney so you get the best possible defense built.

It’s also important to be completely honest and open with your attorney, so always provide them with all the information you can about your alleged crime and circumstances.

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