Criminal Defense Case
Criminal Defense Case Most people are aware of process to convict a criminal defendant. The prosecutor must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the defendant is guilty of the crime in question, and that the accused is not required by law to present the court with any evidence, or prove he or she is innocent. Under the United States Constitution’s Fifth Amendment, a criminal defendant is not compelled to state under oath against himself. However, in some criminal trials, the defendant wants the opportunity to prove he or she is innocent by presenting the court with a defense.
The following paper will discuss the various types of defenses criminal defendants can introduce to defend against criminal charges, and differentiate between the legal and medical perspective on mental illness and insanity (University of Phoenix Course Syllabus, 2009; Law Library, 2009). In most criminal defense cases, even though the defendant may have intentionally harmed another person or property, he or she may maintain that his or her case was an exception to the standards of criminal responsibility and that, as a result, he or she should not be found guilty and undergo any penalties.
According to the Law Library (2009), “There are invariably unusual situations in which people intentionally cause harm, but the purpose of punishment would not be furthered in these cases” (¶4). In addition, due to psychological or intellectual challenges, some individuals are not held criminally responsible for their harmful conduct. Therefore, to accommodate these types of cases, defendants have the opportunity to avoid criminal responsibility by presenting defenses (Law Library, 2009). Two categories can identify criminal defenses: “I did not do it” (factual) and “I did it, but …” (legal).
Defendants of the “I did not do it” category, try to avoid punishment by claiming that he or she did not commit the act in question. Defenses that fall into the “I did not do it” category are the Presumption of Innocent, Reasonable Doubt, and the Alibi Defense. Defendants of the “I did it, but …” category do not deny committing the act in question but instead, try to avoid punishment by claiming that the act was due to unusual circumstances. Defenses that fall into the “I did it, but …” category are Self-Defense, the Insanity Defense, Under the Influence, and Entrapment (Nolo, 2009; Schmalleger, 2010).
The presumption of innocence means that every individual is presumed innocent until convicted, either as the result of pleading guilty or in a trial. This presumption means the defendant does not have to defend himself on his behalf, but instead, the prosecutor must convince the jury of the defendant’s guilt. A defendant may remain silent during the entire court process, not call upon any witnesses, and simply argue that the prosecutor failed to prove their case. The defendant goes free, if the prosecutor fails to convince the court that the defendant is guilty (Find Law, 2009).
Defenses of reasonable doubt, the prosecutor must convince either the judge or jury assigned to the case that the defendant is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt. ” This could be a difficult standard to meet. Because the high burden of proof, means the evidence in favor of the defendant are to be resolved of all doubts by judges and jurors. With such a difficult task imposed on the prosecutor, a defendant may simply argue that there is indeed reasonable doubt (Nolo, 2009). The alibi defense is different from other major defenses; alibis are based on the claim of actual innocence.
The defendant present evidence and or witness testimony proving that he or she was somewhere during the time the alleged crime was committed. For example, Jason Jones, 26, and his brother, Corey Jones, 29, were release from jail when federal prosecutors failed to counterattack the brother’s alibi. Frederick H. Cohn, a lawyer for Jason Jones, was able to prove that during the time of a federal witness killing in the Bronx, both brothers were approximately five miles from the scene of the crime according to Jason Jones MetroCard (The New York Times Company, 2009).
Self-defense is commonly asserted by individuals charged with a crime of violence, like battery, assault with a deadly weapon, or murder. The defendant does not deny committing the crime, but instead, claims that his or her action was justifiable due to the other person’s threatening actions. The fundamental issues in most criminal trials are, who was the aggressor, was self-defense necessary, and was the reasonable amount of force used by the defendant. Although people are allowed to protect themselves from physical harm, it must be in the belief that a physical attack is about to occur.
Further, an act of self-defense cannot exceed more force than is believe reasonable. A person who uses too much force may be guilty of crime. For example, the aggressor physically tries to attack the defender with his fist and the defender defends the aggressor back with a knife, stabbing the aggressor several times. The defender would be guilty of the crime since the force use was not reasonable (Nolo, 2009). The insanity defense is based on the standards that a person cannot be criminally responsible for the crime in question, if he is incapable of controlling his behavior and cannot understand the differences between right and wrong.
Since some individuals’ do suffer from a mental disorder, the insanity defense prevents them from undergoing any criminal penalties. Here are some important points of interest. Not often, but when a defendant does enter a plea of “not guilty by reason of insanity,” judges and jurors almost never supports it. Maybe it has to do with the conflicting agreements between the legal and medical perspective. There are several definitions when it comes to insanity since both the legal system and medical experts cannot agree on one single meaning. McNaghten” defines insanity as “the inability to distinguish right from wrong. ” “Irresistible impulse” defines insanity as “a person’s act may be wrong, but because of the mental illness his actions cannot be controlled. ” Further, defendants found not guilty by reason of insanity is not released by confined to a mental institution for further evaluations, and in some cases, spends more time in the institute than they would if they were in prison. On behalf of the defense, a psychiatrist must testify after examining the case and defendant’s history (Find Law, 2009).
Defendants that commit a crime while under the influence of alcohol or drugs sometimes argue that they cannot be held accountable for their actions since their mental functioning was impaired. However, intoxication, especially voluntary does not excuse criminal conduct. Most people are aware of the side effects of drugs and alcohol, thus holding them legally responsible for committing crimes as a result of their voluntary use. However, in some states, if the criminal crime requires “specific intent,” the defendant can argue that he was too intoxicated to have formed that intent.
Although the defendant is still partially to blame for his actions, the punishment is less severe (Find Law, 2009). Entrapment takes places when a government official forces a person to commit a crime and then tries to punish them for it. In some cases, however, even if a government agent did suggest the crime and then help the defendant commit it, the defendant could still be guilty if the judge or jury believes the defendant would have committed the crime anyways. Entrapment defenses, thus, can be difficult for defendants with prior convictions of similar crimes (Find Law, 2009).
In conclusion, a defendant is given the opportunity to present evidence on his or her behalf, even though he or she is not obligated to do so under law. Throughout this criminal defense case analysis, we were able to discuss the differences between criminal defenses of “I did not do it” (factual) and “I did it, but … ,” (legal), as well as explain the various types of defenses under each category. Further, we are able to conclude that although there are a variety of criminal defenses that can be used to defend a person’s innocence, does not necessarily mean that the courts will agree with his or her actions or defense to actions.
Reference Find Law. (2009). Criminal law: Common defenses: Defenses to criminal charges. Retrieved December 01, 2009, from http://criminal. findlaw. com/crimes/criminal-overview/common-defenses-to-criminal-charges. html Law Library. (2009). Criminal law principles: Defense principles. Retrieved November 30, 2009, from http://jrank. org/pages/18462/Criminal-Law-Principles-Defense-Principles. html Nolo. (2009). Defenses to criminal charges. Retrieved November 30, 2009, from http://www. nolo. om/legal-encyclopedia/article-30275. html Schmalleger, F. (2010). Criminal law today: An introduction with capstone cases. (4th ed. ) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. The New York Times Company. (2009). Murder case dropped after MetroCard verifies alibi. Retrieved December 01, 2009, from http://www. nytimes. com/2009/01/01/nyregion/01murder. html University of Phoenix Course Syllabus. (2009). CJA 343: Criminal Law. Retrieved November 30, 2009, from the University of Phoenix Student Web site.