What Are the Four Major Criminal Law Defenses?

When you are accused of a crime, there are essentially four strategies that defendants and defense counsel may take when defending a charge. Each strategy has a different meaning and may be used in different cases. The success of the strategy depends largely on the facts in the case and on each defendant’s specific circumstances. If you need to speak with a criminal defense lawyer, do not hesitate to contact us. The four basic defenses are laid out below:

I Didn’t Do It or Remain Silent

It may seem simple to plead innocence, but it is more complex than simply sitting quiet or stating that you did not commit the crime. In a criminal matter the prosecutor bears the burden of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a crime was committed and that the defendant committed the crime. Your attorney does not have to prove anything; instead, the defense attorney must lead the jury to a finding of reasonable doubt of your guilt. You will be found not guilty unless the jurors determine, beyond a reasonable doubt, by a unanimous verdict, that the crime was committed by you.

I Did It, But I Was Defending Myself

Self-defense can be used as a defense when you – or a loved one or even a stranger – were facing a credible danger or risk that justified the use of serious or even lethal force. Self-defense is not, despite what you see on television, an easy plea to win. It requires an excellent underlying set of facts and exceptional legal work.

I Am Out Of My Mind

A plea of insanity works in only a very few cases. Insanity must be affirmatively plead. The essence of the insanity defense is that you were unable to understand the difference between right and wrong while committing the crime. Note that this is not a finding that the defendant understood the moral rightness or wrongness of the actions; in other words, the defendant may still be convicted even if convinced of the morality of the actions.

I May Have Done It, But Something Is Unconstitutional

There are several ways that a constitutional violation can arise in a criminal case. Sometimes, the law itself could be unconstitutional. It may violate some particular provision of the Constitution; it can target a protected class or be vague and impossible to understand. Statutes can also be unconstitutional on their face (that is, as written) or in effect.

Even if the law under which you were charged is not itself unconstitutional, there are ways in which the case against you can have constitutional defects. Some of these are:

● Failure to deliver Miranda warning
● Lack of probable cause
● Illegal search and seizure of evidence from the defendant’s home or vehicle
● Coercing a confession
● Acting without a warrant when one was required
● Failing to maintain the chain of custody of evidence
● Double jeopardy

Your defense attorney will carefully examine the case against you and discuss whether any of the occurrences of any of the above-listed faults in your case exist.

Contact a Kansas City Criminal Defense Attorney Today!

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in Missouri, you should hire a defense attorney as quickly as you can to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact us today or call 816-542-2996 for an initial consultation on your case.

CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY FAQs

What is the “Miranda” warning?

The Miranda warning is a series of warnings mandated by a 1966 US Supreme Court decision, Miranda v. Arizona. The warning informs you that you have the right to remain silent and that anything you do say can be used against you in your trial. It also informs you that you have the right to an attorney and that if you cannot afford one, one will be provided for you.

What does “understanding the difference between right and wrong” mean in an insanity plea case?

The standard applied is whether, as a result of, a mental disease or defect such person was incapable of knowing and appreciating the nature, quality, or wrongfulness of such person’s conduct.