Different Types of Legal Defenses in Criminal Law

When you’re facing criminal charges, you might want to know the defences available to you. You must be well prepared when going to answer for criminal charges in court. That said, you might need the help of a criminal law attorney.

Understanding the legal defences in criminal law and tested legal strategies is the first step toward winning your case. Unfortunately, criminal law can be complicated and that’s why most people hire a criminal lawyer in North Bay to help them resolve criminal cases.

Criminal Defences

There are many types of defences in criminal law and your lawyer can help you explore the options that may apply to your case. But what is the meaning of criminal defence? Criminal defences are strategic arguments meant to challenge or invalidate the evidence or claims of the prosecution.

The prosecution represents the state and is usually the party that tries to prove criminal charges against an accused person beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, the prosecutor bears the “burden of proof,” in criminal cases. On the other hand, the accused person has a right to dispute the prosecutor’s claims by using the common defences to criminal charges, including:

  1. Innocence Defence

One defence cited by defendants to avoid or limit criminal liability is the innocence defence. This defence can only be used if the accused person did not commit the alleged crime. Always remember that the prosecution must prove the following:

  •         Criminal intent;
  •         The accused person’s state of mind at the time of the act “Men’s rea”, and
  •         Causation between the act and the effect – proximate causation.

The accused person is not required to prove their innocence–the burden of proving their guilt is borne by the prosecution, as aforementioned. However, the defendant can give testimonies, documents, or other pieces of evidence to support their innocence.

  1. Constitutional Violations Defence

In criminal law, evidence should be collected under certain guidelines. That said, the constitutional violation defence can be used if the authorities mandated to collect evidence, such as police or other law enforcement, do not dispense their duties as expected.

Violation of the accused person’s constitutional rights can include:

  •         Conducting illegal searches;
  •         Seizure of the accused person’s home, car, and clothing;
  •         Failure to produce a warrant for entry;
  •         Obtaining a forceful confession;
  •         Failure to read your rights at the time of arrest, and more.

Sometimes the police make mistakes in the course of their work and these mistakes may often work against you. That said, your lawyer can take advantage of such loopholes and pursue a dismissal of the entire case.

  1. Alibi

An alibi is an affirmative defence which proves that the accused person was somewhere else and not at the scene of the crime. Supportive evidence will be necessary in this case and such evidence can include:

  •         Testimony from another person who was with the accused;
  •         Surveillance footage;
  •         Receipts from a movie theatre, sporting event, and other venues that the accused might have visited;
  •         Phone records, and more.
  1. Insanity Defence

The insanity defence is also an affirmative defence and in this case, the defendant must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that they were insane or they were suffering a mental disorder when the crime was committed. This defence means two things:

  •         The defendant couldn’t distinguish between right and wrong when they committed the crime;
  •         The defendant’s actions were influenced by “irresistible impulse” –– meaning they were aware of their actions but couldn’t resist doing them.

The insanity defence is rarely cited because the defendant is required to admit that they committed the alleged. That said, the defendant will have trapped themselves if the court fails to buy the insanity claim (insanity).

  1. Self-Defence

Self-defence is typically raised in criminal offences involving violence or physical force, such as assault, battery, murder, and arson. Under this defence, the defendant argues that they used force or violence to counteract violent actions or potential threats from another person or party. However, the force used by the accused person (defendant) should be reasonable or proportionate to the amount of force used by the plaintiff/victim.

  1. Defence-of-Property

This defence is typically raised where force or violence is used to protect property from destruction. Like in self-defence, the amount of force used to protect one’s property should never never be lethal.

  1. Voluntary and Involuntary Intoxication

The involuntary intoxication defence can be cited if the defendant’s actions were influenced by intoxication. This defence eliminates the intent aspect that’s required when proving a criminal offence. On the other hand, committing a crime after drinking deliberately is not a valid defence in law. However, the prosecution must prove that the accused person intended to commit a crime.

There are many other criminal defences besides the ones discussed in this article. That said, your lawyer can help recommend the best defences for your case.