Just because you watch all the legal shows and listen closely to the criminal defense lawyers when they present their case does not mean that you can apply what you learn in real life. The law is always complicated even if the concept seems simple enough. As stated on the website of the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter, what is important is the strategy used to mount an effective defense.
Here are 4 of the most common defenses used in criminal court. Not all of them are accepted in all states, and in states where they, there may be major restrictions for their use. Some will be very familiar to you, but most probably not with the applicable federal and state laws, which is where the snag usually occurs.
Defense of Necessity – the defendant had no choice but to act in an unlawful manner to prevent a greater crime from execution. Many courts consider the circumstances very carefully before accepting this type of defense because as pointed out on the website of Kohler Hart Powell, SC, a good defense attorney can always make a reasonable argument for it. A good example is a mother shooting an individual who was holding her child as a hostage. Such cases therefore are very delicate.
Self Defense – the main difference between this and defense of necessity is that the defendant was the one facing risk of harm or danger. An example would be if the individual had been holding the mother hostage instead of the child, and the mother manages to shoot her kidnapper with his or her own gun. Another similarity between the two defenses is that the actions of the defendant should only be what were needed to avert someone else being hurt or killed.
Defense of Mistake – it is an accepted fact that ignorance of the law is not a defense, but this defense uses an ignorance of the facts rather than the law as its basis. An example would be a bar owner serving an alcoholic drink to a minor on the strength of a fake ID that showed the cardholder was of legal drinking age. A similar defense is that of accident.
Defense of Accident – the defendant did not intend to commit a crime. An example would be a pharmacist that confused similar sounding medication and gave the wrong one to a customer that resulted in that customer’s death.