Criminal defense attorney meeting their client to discuss charges.

Common Defenses to Criminal Charges

Innocent until proven guilty is the cornerstone of the U.S. criminal justice system, but it often does not feel like it. Prosecutors carry the burden of proving that a defendant is guilty of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest threshold to meet, as well it should be since a person’s life and freedom are often at stake. 

While the burden rests with prosecutors to prove a case, the defendant is entitled to mount a defense to undermine or disprove any case the prosecutors may have built. The type of defense can vary depending on what crime the defendant is being charged with, but there are several common defenses for several criminal charges.

Defenses Commonly Used for Criminal Charges

As previously stated, the prosecutor has the burden of proving that a defendant is guilty of every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. One of the most common criminal defense strategies is to undermine the prosecutor’s case by casting doubt on whether they have actually proved an element of a crime. This may come from something like presenting the possibility that someone else committed the crime, or that there were circumstances that would make it nearly impossible for the defendant to be able to commit the crime. An alibi defense may also be presented, which is typically built on evidence that the defendant was somewhere other than the scene of the crime when the crime was committed.

There are also several defenses asserting that a defendant committed the alleged act, but he or she was justified in her actions. For instance, in cases of self-defense, a person may have used violence, such as hitting or kicking, but only did so because he or she was being threatened or victimized by the violent actions of another. Self-defense is a common defense to a charge of assault or battery. Another example of this type of defense is duress. With a claim of duress, the defendant admits that he or she committed the alleged act, but it was only because he or she was forced to do so by another person.

Additionally, there are defenses where a defendant asserts that, while it may appear that a crime occurred, no crime was committed. For instance, an assault was not actually an assault because the alleged victim consented to the harm. We have defended many individuals who were arrested and charged with identity theft after obtaining “mystery shopper” jobs, only to find out they were using stolen credit cards. Another example is arrests for selling or possessing items with trademark infringements or counterfeit goods. Often the person charged will have no knowledge these items were fake. The knowledge and intent of the person arrested is often an element of a crime. 

Criminal Defense Attorneys

Facing a criminal charge can feel hopeless. You are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but you may already feel condemned. Do not lose hope. There are many ways to successfully fight a criminal charge. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Heiferman & Associates will mount the strongest possible defense to any criminal charge you face. Additionally, our employment lawyers assure clients are properly advised on the potential impact a case may have on their employment status. Similarly, our immigration lawyers are here to advise clients on the impact a criminal case may have on their immigration status. Whether someone is charged with a misdemeanor or complex felony, our criminal defense lawyers are here to help. Contact us today.