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The 3 main types of criminal defense strategies

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Every criminal defense strategy is unique, as it must address the specific issues that led to someone’s arrest and prosecution. However, it is possible to group common defense strategies into specific categories.

There are numerous approaches to criminal defense, each of which may work in certain circumstances. A defendant intending to take their case to trial in the hopes of avoiding a criminal conviction may need to consider each of the three types of criminal defense strategies outlined below when evaluating the best way to respond to their pending criminal charges.

Raising reasonable doubt

When people think of a criminal defense strategy, they often think of someone providing an alibi or an alternate suspect to the courts. Prosecutors have to prove that someone violated the law beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction. That is a relatively high standard. Those who can show that they had no motive to commit a crime or that they were elsewhere at the time a crime occurred can raise questions about their involvement in criminal activity and potentially avoid a conviction.

Mounting an affirmative defense

Another common strategy if people take criminal cases to trial involves an affirmative defense. There are certain exceptions under the law that change potentially criminal conduct into lawful behavior. Actions that might constitute assault, for example, could be legal if someone acts with the intention to defend themselves against someone else’s criminal behavior. Other examples of affirmative defenses include claims about someone’s mental state at the time of a crime or assertions that they acted under duress, possibly due to a threat against them or a family member.

Focusing on technical issues

State prosecutors have to carefully abide by the law when bringing a case against someone. For example, they must ensure that the evidence they present how is the result of a lawful investigation. Some defense strategies focus on violations of the law or someone’s rights that could undermine the state’s case. Attorneys can exclude evidence obtained by unlawful searches or confessions made while in state custody if someone did not receive their Miranda warning first.

Each of these approaches can inspire various benefits and drawbacks depending on the circumstances. Choosing to defend against criminal charges typically means making a commitment to prove one’s innocence. Those who understand the different approaches to criminal defense are potentially able to identify strategies that could work for them.