Criminal Defenses - St. Francis Preparatory School
Criminal Defenses How do I get out of this? The Presumption of Innocence The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that all citizens have the right to be innocent until proven guilty This means that the state (prosecutor) has the burden of proof
in a criminal court. The defense is not required to present evidence on its own behalf If the defense attorney feels like the state has not provided sufficient evidence to prove guilt
If the state cant prove guilt, the defendant is free Reasonable Doubt The state must prove the defendant is guilty Beyond a Reasonable Doubt The judge or jury cannot have any question as to the facts the state has presented in alleging the defendant committed the crime
If there is any doubt, then the jury must find in favor of the accused The most common defense in criminal trials is that there was a reasonable doubt An alibi is a credible source of evidence that a person accused of a crime was in fact in another place, and not at the scene at the time a crime was committed
Self-Defense This defense is most common in a case where a person is accused of a violent crime such as battery, aggravated assault, or even murder The defendant doesnt deny doing the act, but claims they were simply responding to the other persons aggressive and threatening actions. Things to consider in this type of situation are: Who was the primary aggressor?
Was the defendants claim that it was necessary to use force a reasonable claim? Was the force actually used reasonable based on the situation? Self-Defense There is a long-standing belief that a person should be allowed to defend themselves from an attack It goes further to say that a person should not have to wait until they have been hit, before they use force to prevent the attack.
It is understood that the amount of force they use in defending themselves must not be unreasonable however The Insanity Defense This defense is based on the presumption that people are of sound mind and capable of knowing what they are doing is right or wrong. Popular definitions of insanity are: The McNaghten Rule: The inability to distinguish right from wrong Irresistible Impulse: The person knows what they are doing is wrong, but due to mental illness
they are unable to control their behavior The Insanity Defense When someone notifies the court they plan to seek an insanity defense, they must: Submit to psychological tests Psychiatrists will review Defendants personal background Facts of the case Insanity defense is extremely rare The Insanity Defense Famous cases include:
Andrea Yates Mother of five in Houston, Texas Drowned her children June 20, 2001 Found guilty of capital murder in 2002 Sentenced to life in prison Overturned on appeal
July 26, 2006 Found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity Committed to the North Texas State Hospital The Insanity Defense Famous cases include: Susan Smith Mother of two in South Carolina
Having an affair and lover didnt want kids She drowned her two sons October 25, 1994 Made up a carjacking story
Convicted of murder July 22, 1995 Sentenced to 30 years to Life in Prison Eligible for parole in 2025 The Insanity Defense A person cannot be found guilty of a crime if they did not have the mental capacity to distinguish right and wrong A person cannot be found guilty of a crime if, because
of mental disease, injury or congenital deficiency they acted because of a delusional compulsion Involuntary intoxication Voluntary intoxication is not a defense to criminal actions Involuntary intoxication
A person cannot be found guilty of a crime if because of involuntary intoxication they did not have sufficient mental capacity to distinguish between right and wrong Entrapment When a government official persuades a person to commit a crime, then arrests the person The idea or intent to commit a crime came from the government official
Crime would not have been committed without the actions of the government official It may not be entrapment if the person was already inclined to commit the crime Ignorance of the Law Ignorance of the Law- I didnt know that was illegal will
only work with certain obscure/vague laws that people might not know or understand. Mistake of Fact- Innocent mistake DURESS Duress- The Defendant was forced into doing something against their will must show that they 1.were under an immediate threat of serious bodily harm or injury 2.had a well-grounded belief that the threat would be carried out. Had no reasonable chance to escape or frustrate the threat Necessity
-Necessity: A defense that permits a person to act in a criminal manner when an emergency situation, not of the person's own creation compels the person to act in a criminal manner to avoid greater harm from occurring
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