- Innocent until proven guilty- All people accused of a crime are legally presumed to be innocent until they are convicted. They must either be convicted in a trial or plead guilty themselves. Since an individual is innocent until proven guilty, all the criminal defense lawyer must prove is that the prosecutor did not do their job of proving their client guilty. Therefore, if the prosecutor has a weak case, the defendant may not even need to argue anything other than there is not enough evidence to prove guilt. This is the main job of the criminal defense attorney.
- Reasonable Doubt- The prosecutor has the job of convincing a judge or the jury that the defendant is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This means they have to do more than just make them simply think the defendant is guilty. They must actually show and resolve all avenues of reasonable doubts about the defendant’s guilt. The judge or jury must feel beyond most reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. IF they cannot do such, the defendant should not be convicted. This is an incredibly high standard to impose on the prosecutor. This means a vast majority of the time, a defendant’s most common defense is to argue that reasonable doubt of guilt exists. Your criminal defense attorney will attempt to point out all the areas of reasonable doubt still left in the case to prove that the prosecutor did not do their job thoroughly enough.
- Alibi- If the defendant was at another location at the time of the alleged crime, the criminal defense attorney will use an alibi defense in the case.
- Self-Defense- If the defendant committed the crime but did so in self-defense, the criminal defense lawyer will point this out to the court. In self defense cases, the defendant admits that he or she did in fact commit the crime, but claims that it was justified by the other person’s actions that threatened the safety of the defendant. For self defense to hold up in court, the criminal defense attorney will try to show that the other party was the aggressor, that the defendant believed they were in danger, and that the defendant acted reasonably.
- Insanity- The insanity defense is based on the principle that punishment is justified only if the defendant is capable of controlling his or her behavior and understanding that what he or she has done is wrong. If a person commits a crime while determined to be legally insane, they may still be charged, but to a to a lower level of the crime. They can also be sentenced to seek medical treatment or therapy in lieu of jail time.
- Entrapment- entrapment occurs when the government tries to seduce a person into committing a crime and then tries to punish that person for committing the crime. However, if a judge or jury believes that a suspect was going to commit the crime anyway, the suspect may be found guilty even if a government official suggested the crime and urged the defendant to commit it. Entrapment defenses are made incredibly difficult for defendants with prior convictions for the same type of crime due to the claim of predisposition.
Your Defense Attorney is Your Ally
A criminal defense attorney will be able to speak with you about your best course of action in your particular case. Criminal defense lawyers can also help with plea bargains outside of court, as well as lessening the charges presented against their client.