Common Defenses to Criminal Charges

In order to convict someone of a criminal offense, a prosecutor must prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” To prevail in a criminal case, a defendant must present a good defense against the crime he or she is alleged to have committed. Here are some of the most common defenses to criminal charges:

Didn’t Do It. The most common defense is that the defendant didn’t commit the crime they are alleged to have committed. An acquittal may be possible because of:

Presumption of innocence — everyone accused of a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty. This means the prosecution bears the burden of proving the defendant committed the crime, rather than a defendant having to prove his or her innocence. Some acquittals occur simply because the prosecution fails to prove their case.

Reasonable doubt — this heavy burden of proof requires that a jury or judge have a moral certainty that the defendant is guilty, which is more than “thinking” the defendant did it.

Alibi — evidence that the defendant was somewhere else when the crime was committed can result in an acquittal.

Did It, But… Even if a prosecutor proves a defendant committed the crime, an acquittal is sometimes possible if there are mitigating circumstances, including:

Self-defense — used most often in violent crimes, self-defense can justify why a crime was committed in the interest of the defendant protect himself or herself. Sometimes just a threatening act may cause a defendant to act in self-defense.

Insanity — an insanity defense can be very complex and here the burden of proof rests with the defendant in proving insanity.

Entrapment — when the government induces someone to commit a crime they otherwise would not have committed on his or her own, this is entrapment.

Under the Influence — although voluntary intoxication does not usually excuse criminal behavior, if a crime requires “special intent,” it may be argued that the defendant was too intoxicated to have formed that intent.

Whether you are facing a serious federal white-collar prosecution, a state murder charge, or misdemeanor charges, The Cogdell Law Firm has the experience, knowledge and reputation you want for your legal team. When results matter most, contact Dan Cogdell at (713) 426-2244 or