If you’re facing criminal charges, you might be worried about how you can defend yourself against those charges. While your defense is ultimately your lawyer’s job, knowing about the possibilities can help ease any anxiety you may have.
Since there are so many nuances involved in criminal defense, make sure you have an attorney to represent you in court. Don’t try to represent yourself. A skilled attorney is worth their weight in gold.
With that said, there are several standard defenses lawyers use to defend their clients against criminal charges. While each case is entirely different and only your attorney will know which defense is appropriate, here’s a summary of some potential defenses.
Self-defense is one of the most widely used defenses in cases involving violence and/or murder. Self-defense laws vary by state, but generally speaking, violent actions can be considered self-defense when the amount of force used is proportionate to the reasonable amount of harm you fear.
In other words, if someone is unarmed and gives you a suspicious look, it wouldn’t be reasonable to shoot them. However, if someone points a gun at you, it would be easier to convince a court you shot them in self-defense.
The self-defense laws in Texas are more lenient than in other states. For example, you’ve heard about armed burglars getting shot by the homeowner, suing, and winning. That isn’t likely to happen in Texas.
Entrapment is when a government agent induces a crime by convincing someone to commit the crime when they would otherwise have no predisposition to engage in criminal conduct.
Jacobson v. United States, 503 U.S. 540, 548 (1992) determined that “Government agents may not originate a criminal design, implant in an innocent person’s mind the disposition to commit a criminal act, and then induce commission of the crime so that the Government may prosecute.”
Although there are two elements to meet, an entrapment defense hinges on proving that the person facing charges did not have a predisposition to commit the crime.
Duress, as a defense, is when a defendant argues that they only acted out of an immediate fear of injury. For example, they may have been told to commit a robbery or they’d be killed or hurt.
Another form of duress might be that you gave a false confession to investigators because you felt threatened or like you would be harmed if you didn’t confess.
4. Lack of intent
Lack of intent is a common defense to criminal charges and can be a strong one. For example, if you accidentally start a fire that burnt down a building, you haven’t committed a crime. However, if you set fire to a building intentionally, then you have committed arson.
For this defense to be successful, it must be proven that you had no intent. A skilled criminal defense attorney will be your best chance at proving this defense.
5. Wrongful arrest
Unfortunately, wrongful arrests happen frequently. If you’ve ever watched some of the “Constitutional audit” channels on YouTube, you’ve seen people bait police officers into arresting them without probable cause in order to show their bad behavior. The reason it happens so easily is because many police officers abuse their authority and don’t care about probable cause.
This experience happens to a lot of people. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, which translates to a requirement for probable cause. That probable cause must be articulable, however, police are not required to actually explain it to you.
Unfortunately, if you resist a wrongful arrest, in most states, that’s a crime. However, when you have a good attorney, you’re in a better position to convince the court to side with you.
Insanity is a defense that won’t apply to most people, but it’s important to understand. When you plead insanity, it means you’re acknowledging that you committed the crime, but you are not responsible because of mental illness.
This isn’t an easy defense to prove without solid evidence of mental illness, and unfortunately, some defendants try to fake insanity.
7. Double jeopardy
Once you’ve been acquitted of a crime, you can’t be tried again for that crime. If you’re facing criminal charges for a crime for which you’ve been acquitted, this will be the only defense you need.
However, it doesn’t mean you can commit the same type of crime multiple times and not face charges. It only applies to a specific crime committed on a specific date.
Don’t face criminal charges without an attorney
As you can see, the defenses to criminal charges aren’t simple. Don’t face your charges alone. Make sure you have a criminal defense attorney to fight for you in court.