The Defendant must show that he/she was somewhere else when the crime/crimes were committed. If the jury has a reasonable doubt that the defendant was present when the crime was committed, they must find him/her not guilty. However, defendant can still be found for the crime if they aided/abetted or conspired with someone else to commit the crime.
A defendant must show that they acted under a threat against themselves or someone else, placing that person in a reasonable belief of immediate danger if they did not accept a request to commit the crime/crimes they are charged with. The government must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act under duress.
If a defendant acted out of legal necessary, they cannot be guilty. To establish this defense, a defendant must prove that it is more likely than not the Defendant:
1) Acted in an emergency to prevent significant bodily harm or evil to him/herself or someone else;
2) The defendant had no lawful alternative;
3) The defendant’s acts did not create a greater danger than the one to be avoided;
4) The defendant reasonably believed that the act was necessary to prevent the threatened harm or evil;
5) A reasonable person would have believed the act was necessary under the same circumstances
6) The Defendant did not substantially contribute to the emergency
There are certain crimes that require general or specific intent to be proven at trial. For such crimes, showing that the crime was committed without the intent necessary is a defense. Other crimes require criminal negligence, and in those, proving that the crime was committed by accident, instead of criminal negligence, is a defense as well.
General Intent vs. Specific Intent
Under the common law there is a distinction between specific and general intent crimes. The basic difference between the two is that specific intent crimes require the individual who commits the crime to have a certain intent or purpose when the crime was committed, where as general intent crimes do not.
What is Criminal Negligence?
Criminal Negligence is required for some crimes, and is usually required for crimes where there is a lack of foresight on behalf of the defendant, which allowed foreseeable and avoidable dangers to manifest.
A defendant can be found not guilty if they did not have the mental state needed to commit the crime. This would happen if the defendant did not know a fact or mistakenly believed a fact, resulting in the defendant’s inability to have the needed intent to commit the crime.
Entrapment occurs when a law enforcement officer (or their representatives) engages in conduct that would cause a normally law-abiding person to commit the crime. An example of entrapment would be an officer who repeatedly pleads, flatters, coaxes, a defendant, making a crime unusually attractive to a normally law abiding person. Ruses, stings and other “decoys” do not constitute entrapment unless no overbearing pressure or conduct is employed by the “decoy”.
A defendant is not guilty of their crimes if they committed them while being legally unconscious. A party is legally unconscious when they are in a medical blackout, an epileptic seizure, involuntarily intoxicated, sleepwalking, or other similar conditions.
Mental Impairment and Intent
Evidence of a parties’ mental disease, defect, or disorder, can be submitted to show that the party lacked the requisite intent to commit a crime.
A party who is voluntarily intoxicated can still be found guilty for crimes of general intent, but they may be declared incapable of having the specific intent necessary from some crimes. A defendant can invoke this defense if they have become intoxicated by willingly using any intoxicating drug, drink, or substance, knowing that it could produce an intoxicating effect, or willingly assuming the risk of that effect. However, if the crime results of an action with a natural and probable outcome, then this defense will not be available.
Evidence that a defendant was involuntarily intoxicated can be admitted to question a defendant’s mental capacity to commit a crime. A party is involuntarily intoxicated if he or she unknowingly ingested some intoxicating liquor, drug, or other substance, of if his or her intoxication was caused by the force, duress, fraud, or trickery of someone else, without any fault on the party of the intoxicated party.
The Insanity defense is available as a means of altering the sentence issued by the court. In order to find a party legally insane, it must be proven that:
1) At the time of committing the crime, the party had a mental disease or defect;
2) Because of that disease or defect, they did not know or understand the nature and quality of their act or did not know or understand that their act was morally or legally wrong.
None of the following qualify as a mental disease or defect for the purposes of insanity defense: personality disorders, adjustment disorders, seizure disorders, or abnormal personality disorders that are only made apparent by a series of criminal or antisocial acts.
A party who has not been read their complete Miranda Warning can have subsequent statements made to police stricken from court. A Miranda Warning serves to inform a party of their right to silence, in order to preserve the admissibility of their statements in future criminal proceedings. An example of this would be a party, who after being arrested is read a truncated version of their Miranda Rights. Statements made, depending on which parts of the Miranda Warning were not read, can be stricken from court.
In order for Law Enforcement to search a persons’ body, home, or property, without a warrant, they need probable cause. Probable cause is sufficient reason based upon known facts to believe a crime has been committed or that certain property is connected with the crime. If it can be shown that Law Enforcement did not have probable cause, then any evidence gathered from that search can be stricken from the court.
- Other defense strategies: self-defense, defense of property, defense of others and mutual combat.