Criminal Defense Strategies

Not guilty. For anyone having been charged with a crime, the whole world hinges on those two words. In a jury trial, those two small words are the ones you pray are read by the jury foreperson at the end of deliberations. Many factors determine the outcome of the proceedings, but none is more important than your defense.

Once you have researched and selected your criminal lawyer Stafford tx to defend you, it is imperative to work together on your strategy. Depending upon the crime you have been accused of, you need to be prepared in case yours goes to trial. There are several standard criminal defenses you could conceivably use, contingent upon the crime you’ve been accused of committing and depending upon what is appropriate to the circumstances of the case.

One such strategy is the Affirmative Defense, where the defendant admits the crime but has a viable explanation for their actions. For instance, a person may admit to killing another person, but maybe in the heat of the moment, not as a premeditated act. This could get the charges dropped down to a lesser offense. There are several different Affirmative Defenses, including entrapment, coercion, necessity, insanity or self-defense.

Entrapment means that yes, you committed the crime, but you would not have done so unless you had been enticed by a police officer or another law enforcement agent. The burden of proof is showing that you would not have otherwise committed the crime had the officer not somehow coaxed you into doing so.

In a similar vein, coercion can be an affirmative defense if you can prove that someone had threatened you into submission, so that you felt you had no choice but to commit the crime.

Another affirmative defense is necessity, meaning that committing the crime was a necessity to avoid greater harm. To use this defense, you would have to prove that there were no other alternatives other than committing the crime and that you stopped the action as soon as the danger passed. You would also show you were not responsible for the danger than needed to be avoided. Essentially, this is a “lesser of two evils” type of defense.

The insanity defense is one of TV folklore but also a viable defense, though very difficult to use successfully. You would have to show clear evidence that you were suffering from a mental defect at the time of the crime and that it made you unable to determine that your actions were wrong.  There will be extensive psychological examinations by both the defense and the prosecution’s experts to ascertain your mental state now and at the time of the transgression. While you may not be convicted of the crime and you may not serve jail time, instead you may be sent to a mental facility for extended care.

You could also claim self-defense or defense of another person as a tactical approach to your case. You would admit your culpability to the crime but you would present evidence that you were protecting yourself or someone else from harm. For this defense to be feasible, there would have to have been a threat to your life, or the life of someone else and there was no other possible recourse than the action you took. If someone car jacks you at gunpoint and threatens to shoot you if you don’t turn over the vehicle and you instead shoot the perpetrator, you could claim self-defense.

There are other possible defenses including consent, where you acknowledge you committed the crime, but you assert that the victim consented to the action. You could also claim intoxication, but of course that doesn’t negate your responsibility for your actions, but it could be used to show that you should receive a lighter penalty. Also important is the statute of limitations involved. If the prosecution takes too long to file charges, you can have the charges dropped if it exceeds the statute of limitations. For example, if you robbed a bank, the federal statute of limitations is five years. After that point, you cannot be federally charged for bank robbery, although state laws vary. Discussing all the defense options, the evidence at your disposal and the particulars of your unique case are the fundamentals of your relationship with your attorney.

There are also some unconventional defenses that have actually had their day in court, sometimes with surprising results. Back in the 1980’s, a case went to trial where the defendant claimed he drove fourteen miles, stabbed his mother in law to death and then headed directly to the police station. He claimed he had no memory of any of the events and his criminal defense attorney proposed that he had committed the crimes while sleepwalking. Since there was no one to corroborate his claim, the defendant was subjected to an EEG scan of his brain and it was determined that he had abnormal brain activity associated with a sleep disorder. The results of the EEG coupled with the defendant’s testimony and his lack of motive for the crime was enough for the jury to find him not guilty.

Then there is the so-called “Twinkie Defense”. Although it was never an actual courtroom defense, its reputation lingers on. Dan White, a San Francisco supervisor held a vendetta against the Mayor and a gay Supervisor and he shot them both to death. White was portrayed as a clean cut, conservative person who suffered from bipolar disorder and had an increasing displeasure with the liberal stance of the Mayor and the gay supervisor, leading him to “snap” and commit these murders. The “Twinkie Defense” was an expansion on White’s bipolar condition; that ingesting junk foods could have affected his mood, to the tipping point of murder. Although it was proven that White purposefully snuck a gun into City Hall by avoiding the metal detectors, then shot the Mayor twice, reloaded the gun and shot the supervisor, White’s punishment was voluntary manslaughter and he served just a few short years for his crimes. Although Twinkies had nothing to do with his verdict, the press grasped onto one element of the testimony—that White was so depressed that he consumed nothing but junk food in the days before the murders and that led him to ultimate actions. Hence, the “I got all jacked up on sugar from Twinkies and killed two people” became a notion in the public accepted, even though it was not White’s actual defense.

 

Finding the right fort bend criminal defense attorney for your case is probably the most important piece of your defense. Having someone who is savvy, smart, experienced and articulate may be the difference between a Twinkie verdict or a life sentence, so make your choice wisely.