Criminal Defenses are not discussed until after we give a brief overview of how a formal criminal charge makes it into court. First, when you are arrested fir a crime, the Police Officer brings you into custody, either serving you with an arrest affidavit or writing his own arrest affidavit stating what you allegedly did and what the evidence is that supports that offense. Next, The police officers involved with an arrest will put together evidence, submit witness statements, collect physical evidence, record confessions. Next, the State attorney will then review all of the evidence and make a formal charging decisions, specifically filing “an information” against the Defendant. This usually takes several weeks from when the Defendant was first arrested.The information is the formal charging document that tells the Defendant what his offense is. It is written in a plain way that tells you clearly what degree offense the charge is, when the offense was committed, and who the victim was.
Criminal Defenses are defenses to the formal criminal charges listed in “the information” filed against the Defendant. There are far too many criminal defenses to list in their entirety. Therefore, the Criminal Defenses listed below are merely an attempt to give you an idea what types of Defenses are available. The explanation is written in as simple of terms as possible. Often times when lawyers discuss legal issues, clients become confused because they talk as if the client knows the law already. The hope throughout the entire help section is to simplify the process and make understanding the law an easier endeavor.
- Self-Defense: Self Defense is a criminal defense where you say that you thought you were going to be harmed so you harmed someone else. E.g. someone looks like they are going to punch you, so you punch them first.
- Defense of Others: another of the criminal defenses that can be explained quite plainly. With this one, the Defense is that you thought someone else was going to get harmed so you jumped in and harmed them instead. E.g. a mugger attacks your girlfriend so you punch the mugger to prevent her from being hurt.
- Necessity: one of the more interesting criminal defenses. Necessity defense is the defense that you admit to committing the crime, but you state you had to commit the crime in order to prevent some other greater harm. E.g. A driver leaves the scene of an accident because he’s being chased by a motorcycle gang who’s trying to kill him.
- No mens rea: Mens rea defenses are criminal defenses that claim the Defendant did not have criminal intent necessary to satisfy the elements of the offense.E.g. You break into someone’s house to use the restroom. The State charges you with Burglary. You argue that you didn’t have the intent to commit a crime inside the house, instead you intended to use the restroom, therefore you didn’t have the criminal intent to commit a Burglary.
- No Actus Reus: Actus Reus defenses are criminal defenses that claim the Defendant didn’t actually commit the act. Mens rea refers to the mental state. Actus reus refers to the physical state. An example of an Actus Reus Defense would be an involuntary arm spasm that caused your hand to touch a woman next to you inappropriately. The argument is that you didn’t actually commit the act. It was the spasm that forced your arm. Not always the strongest argument, but these sorts of defenses can be seen in some instances.
- Alibi: Alibi defenses rely on other witnesses to come to court and testify that you were with them when the offense was committed.
- Consent: Consent defenses rely on evidence showing that the victim was a willing participant. For example, in a sex battery case, evidence that the victim voluntarily consented to sex.
- Etc. There are a number of criminal defenses available in a criminal case. Each case has multiple possible angles. It’s important to discuss your story in detail with a criminal Defense lawyer so he can discuss criminal defenses in detail and explain how your criminal defenses fit into your case.