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4 Most Common Criminal Defenses In The US Legal System

When a person has been charged with a crime, he or she may be able to offer valid defenses to avoid being convicted of the crime. The law states that a person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty by the prosecution. Using a criminal defense will allow a person to avoid jail time, prison, the payment of high fines, probation and community service. In other cases, a person may not be found to be totally innocent in the crime when he or she pleads a criminal defense. Instead, he or she may be ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation or serve a decreased sentence. There are criminal defenses that people typically use to prove their innocence in a court of law, and here are the four most common ones.


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1. The Alibi Defense

An alibi defense is used to show that a person who has been convicted of a crime was in another place at the time in which the crime occurred. Alibi means “in another place” in the Latin language. An example of effectively using the alibi defense would be when a person asserts he or she was at the grocery store at the time a robbery at a gas station took place. Witnesses would testify that they saw the alleged thief at the grocery store during the time in which the gas station was robbed. This information would prove the innocence of the alleged perpetrator.

2. The Double Jeopardy Defense

Double jeopardy is a defense that is used when the prosecution attempts to reopen a case. If the prosecution obtains favorable evidence for its side after a person has been convicted of a crime, then the prosecution will be unable to retry the case.

3. Self-Defense

Self-defense is asserted when a person felt threatened by another person’s actions. The perpetrator of the crime admits that he or she actually engaged in the crime, but that the circumstances warranted the use of violence to avoid being hurt by another person. The typical criminals who use self-defense as a plea have engaged in battery, assault or murder. The jury will have to decide whether the criminal’s use of force or violence was reasonable in light of all of the facts in the case. Another issue that the jury will have to determine is the aggressor at the time in which the crime occurred. The law recognizes self-defense as a valid type of criminal defense because people should be able to protect themselves from the violence of another person. A person need not already be attacked in order to use self-defense in a way that is legal. Perhaps another person is about to shoot or strike the victim. The victim may decide to be the first one to fire a shot or strike the person as a means of protection in that case.

4. The Insanity Defense

The insanity defense protects people who have mental disabilities from being charged with crimes. If a person is unable to understand the significance of his or her actions, then the law recognizes that he or she should not be charged with a crime. Also, some people with mental illnesses are unable to control their actions. If a person decides to use the insanity defense, then he or she will be subjected to psychiatric testing by the prosecution. While this is one of the most common criminal defenses asserts in court rooms, juries typically decide not to uphold this defense.

A person who has been charged with a crime can avoid long prison or jail sentences by asserting one of these common criminal defenses. A criminal defense lawyer can help a person decide which defense is the best one to assert in a case.

Rosa Jeffries is a criminal defense attorney and guest author at Top Criminal Justice Schools, where she contributed a guide to the best online criminal justice schools.


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