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What are Common Defenses for Criminal Charges

When you face criminal charges, it is important to not only be aware of your rights (see Rights You Need to Know if You are Arrested) but also the possible defenses available to you. While this article briefly identifies and explains some of the most common criminal defenses, an experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to advise you on the best defense for the circumstances of your particular case.

Self Defense

Self defense is a common criminal defense used by individuals who are charged with violent crimes such as assault and battery (see Types of Serious Crime and Punishment. When this defense is used, a suspect admits that they committed a crime, but justifies their actions by claiming the other person was threatening them. In this way, the suspect’s actions were not intentional or pre-mediated, but in response to behavior that threatened his or her own safety.

The Insanity Defense

The insanity defense is a controversial criminal defense used by individuals who do not have control of their behavior or do not understand that their actions were wrong. If an individual is not able to understand basic principles of morality or cannot …the law asserts that such people are not accountable for their actions. In this way, the insanity defense prevents people who do not have the capability to control their actions or the capacity to understand the consequences of their behavior from being punished as criminals. It is important to be aware that while individuals may not face criminal penalties if this defense is successful, they may be confined to a mental facility for a longer period of time than would have been permissible by criminal incarceration.

Statute of Limitations Defense

If you are charged with a crime it is important to know that you may only be charged with a certain crime for a limited amount of time after an offense occurs; this is known as a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations varies depending on the crime and the state in which the crime took place. Therefore, it is very important to contact a criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with a crime that took place a number of years ago as the statute of limitations may have run out and you may not legally be tried for the criminal charges that you face. Be aware that statutes of limitations do not prevent you from being prosecuted when they expire. Rather, statutes of limitations prevent you from being charged with a crime when they are expired.

The Alibi Defense

An alibi is a strong criminal defense if you have evidence that supports you were in another location at the time an alleged criminal offence took place (see What’s an Alibi?). To assert this defense often demands that you have evidence and eyewitnesses that can testify to your whereabouts on the date in question. If you have sufficient evidence, the alibi defense is very powerful since you could not have possibly been in two locations at once. An experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to advise you on what kind of documentation you will need to support your alibi and help you track down eye witnesses that are willing to testify about your alibi.

The Entrapment Defense

It is illegal for the government to induce you to commit a criminal offense and then try to punish you. When the government acts in this way, it is called entrapment. While this can be an effective defense in criminal cases, it is not always the best defense. This is because you may still be convicted of a crime if the judge or jury believes you were predisposed to committing the crime anyway. A predisposition is largely based on prior criminal activity; therefore, if you have prior convictions for the same type of crime, entrapment may not be the best defense for your case.

There are many other defenses that may better suit the circumstances of your particular case. And an experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to advise you on how to develop a strong defense. Criminal charges are serious matters (see How Pleading Guilty to a Felony may affect Your Life) and it is a good idea to hire a criminal defense attorney or utilize a court appointed attorney to help you fight the charges you face (see How to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney).

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