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How can I defend myself against criminal charges?

Facing criminal charges, regardless of their severity, isn’t easy. The consequences that await you will depend on how solid your defense against the charges is. The prosecutor assigned to your case will have to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict you of the charges. As the prosecutor builds a case against you, you will be able to present a criminal defense that will raise such a reasonable doubt.

There are numerous defenses available to you to help poke holes in the prosecutor’s case. Some of those defenses start with the premise that you did not commit the crimes you are accused of committing. In the United States, there is a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. It is the responsibility of the prosecutor to prove your guilt, not your responsibility to prove your innocence.

One way for you to shoot down the prosecutor’s theories is by presenting an alibi. An alibi will show the court that you were not at the scene of the crime at the time of the incident and therefore did not commit the crime. This creates reasonable doubt in the minds of judge or jury of your presence at the crime scene.

Other defenses are based on the theory that you did commit the crime, but should not be held responsible. In cases involving physical violence, self-defense is a common defense used. You may say that you only injured the other party while protecting yourself from harm. You will likely need to show that the self-defense was necessary and that you behaved reasonably given those circumstances. You may also be able to claim insanity. The McNaughten test, used by many courts, defines insanity as the “inability to distinguish right from wrong.” You will have to undergo psychiatric testing as well as receive testimony from a psychiatrist to have a chance to successfully use this defense.

Source: FindLaw, “Defending Yourself Against a Criminal Charge,” accessed on Nov. 2, 2015



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