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What are Common Defenses Used in Criminal Trials?

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What are Common Defenses Used in Criminal Trials?

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In order to be convicted of a crime, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant met each element of the alleged offense. There are defenses that the criminal defense attorney can use that may cast doubt upon the prosecution’s case against the defendant. This is vital. If the finder of fact has any reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime, then the fact-finder (judge or jury) must find the defendant not guilty. If these defenses are presented to the prosecution prior to trial, then the prosecution may realize the weaknesses in the case and may dismiss the charges. The following are common general defense options used in criminal cases and trials by criminal defense lawyers.

1. Alibi – When supported by sufficient evidence, this defense is often successful. This criminal defense strategy attempts to prove that you were not in the place of the crime at the time of the crime. This is usually backed up by witness testimony or other documentation, such as a credit card receipt at a gas station in Alaska on the day a crime was committed in Chicago.

2. Self Defense – This defense can be employed in cases of violent crimes like assault or homicide. To employ this defense, the defendant must admit that they committed the violent act in question. Then, the defendant must attempt to justify his or her actions by claiming that the complaining witness was threatening him or her and therefore the defendant acted without premeditation or criminal motive, and that he or she only acted to protect his or her own safety.

3. Insanity Defense – The insanity defense is a complicated but sometimes highly effective defense against criminal liability. If you are going to use this defense it is extremely important that you have a qualified criminal defense attorney representing you. In Illinois, you cannot be committed of a crime if at the time of the crime you lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of your conduct. However, if you are acquitted of a crime because you are found not guilty by reason of insanity, you may end up spending more time in a mental hospital than you would have spent in jail or prison had you been found guilty.

4. Entrapment – The law does not allow government actors to persuade citizens to commit crimes that they were otherwise not planning on committing. However, if the government provides an opportunity for criminal activity and arrest those who willingly participate in it, that is not considered entrapment. A skilled criminal attorney will know when an entrapment defense is appropriate.

5. Statute of limitations – The government must bring charges against a criminal defendant within a certain period of time after the commission of the crime. If the government fails to bring charges within the period of statute of limitations, then they effectively forfeited their ability to prosecute anyone for the crime, whether that person is guilty or not. Some crimes, especially violent crimes, do not have a statute of limitations. For other crimes, the statute of limitations varies by crime and state. Your criminal attorney will know the statute of limitations for the crime you are charged with.

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If you have been charged with a crime in Chicago it is important that you contact an experienced criminal attorney to aggressively defend your case. Contact our office today for a free consultation.

Are you facing criminal charges in the Chicago area? At the Law Offices of Michael P. Schmiege, our founding attorney has years of experience in protecting the rights of people who have been accused of DUI, drug crimes, violent crimes, theft, white collar crimes, arson, armed robbery, criminal appeals, sex crimes, and more.

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