What Are the Four Major Criminal Law Defenses?

February 1, 2023

Criminal law defenses refer to the strategies that a defense attorney creates to help in creating reasonable doubt in the case of a client. Essentially, criminal courts require that a jury or judge determine guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In this regard, a good defense can help in establishing enough doubt that a conviction is not justified. Depending on the available evidence and the types of the case at hand, the defense attorney can create either of the four major criminal law defenses.

1. Innocence

Although pleasing innocents is the most straightforward defense for most defendants, it requires more than simply taking the witness stand and stating that you did not do it. Usually, a criminal attorney will spend time building a defense strategy to claim the innocence of the defendant and why the case should come to a closure. This includes searching for witnesses and experts to testify and probably revolving around evidence that shows that another party is guilty of the crime. In most cases, the defendant will need a strong alibi witness for the attorney to prove innocence beyond a reasonable doubt.

2. Self-defense

This criminal law defense is usually employed in situations of assault or battery. Sometimes, self-defense can be employed in murder cases where the defendant claims that they killed or caused harm to the victim while protecting their own life against the violent threats of the victim. However, claiming self-defense can be difficult depending on the circumstances of the case. The attorney will try to prove that an incredible risk or danger existed, which justifies the actions of the defendant in using lethal or excessive force.

3. Insanity

This defense works in only a small number of situations, which are affirmative and imply that the defendant committed the crime under alleviating circumstances. The criminal attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the mental illness of the defendant made them commit the crime. In other words, the attorney must prove that the defendant was unable to differentiate what was right or wrong when committing the crime.

4. Constitutional Violations

The constitution protects the rights of everyone whether you are guilty of a crime or not. However, constitutional violations are common in criminal trials in relation to the circumstances of the arrest, treatment of the defendant, and how evidence was collected. In this defense, a good violation of the constitution can result in the dismissal of the charges or make the prosecution agrees to a certain plea with a bargain for a less harsh charge. Some of the common violations include:

· Not obtaining a warrant

· Not reading the Miranda warning during the arrest of the defendant

· Breaking the custody chain on the collected evidence

· Illegally seizing or looking for evidence from the vehicle or home of the defendant

· Getting a coerced confession