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Common Defenses that a Criminal Lawyer can Raise Against Criminal Charges
In a criminal case the burden is on the prosecution. To convict a criminal defendant of a crime in Ohio, the prosecutor must prove each and every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant is given an opportunity to present a defense, but does not necessarily need to do so. Sometimes a defendant can stand on his Constitutional right not to testify (and put the prosecution's case to the test). There are many types of defenses, which can be discussed with your criminal defense attorney.
The Presumption of Innocence
All people accused of a crime are legally presumed to be innocent unless and until they proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, either in a trial or as a result of pleading guilty. This legal presumption means not only that the prosecutor must convince the jury of the defendant's guilt, but also that the defendant need not say or do anything in his or her own defense. A defendant may simply remain silent, not present any witnesses, and argue that the prosecutor failed to prove his or her case. If the prosecutor can't convince the jury that the defendant is guilty, the defendant goes free. Keep in mind that the accused person does not have to prove his or her innocence in a criminal case.
Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt in Criminal Cases
The prosecutor must convince a judge or jury of an accused person's guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt." This is the highest burden of any American court of law. This heavy burden of proof in criminal cases means that judges and jurors are supposed to resolve all reasonable doubts about the defendant's guilt in favor of the defendant. With such a high standard imposed on the prosecutor, a defendant's most common defense is to argue that reasonable doubt exists relative to one or more elements of the crime charged.
The Alibi Defense
An alibi defense in Ohio consists of evidence that a defendant was somewhere other than the scene of the crime at the time the crime was committed. Under Ohio criminal law, a Notice of Alibi is mandatory and needs to be filed well in advance of trial.
Self Defense or Defense of Another
Self-defense is a defense commonly asserted by someone charged with a crime of violence, such as assault, felonious assault, murder or manslaughter. The defendant basically admits that he or she did in fact commit the crime, but claims that it was justified by his or her right to defend oneself, relatives or property. The core issues in most self-defense cases are:
- Who was the aggressor?
- Where did the incident take place, a home or residence?
- Was there a duty to retreat before using force?
- Was the defendant's belief that self-defense was necessary a reasonable one?
- Was the force used by the defendant also reasonable?
Self-defense is rooted in the belief that people should be allowed to protect themselves from physical harm. This means that a person does not have to wait until he or she is actually attacked to act in self-defense. If a reasonable person in the same circumstances would think that he or she is about to be physically attacked, that person has the right to use reasonable force to prevent the attack.
However, a person acting in self-defense cannot use more force than is reasonable. Excessive force may render that person liable for the crime. Ohio law on these issues is quite complex. Usually the services of a criminal defense lawyer are necessary.
The Insanity Defense
The insanity defense is an extremely complex topic and requires the expertise of a criminal defense lawyer in almost all cases.
Intoxication as a Defense
Crimes are not generally excused if committed while the offender is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Voluntary intoxication does not excuse criminal conduct. However, use of alcohol or drugs may be a mitigating factor when it comes to sentencing for a crime.
The Defense of Entrapment
Entrapment occurs when the government induces a person to commit a crime by actually placing the idea of committing such a crime in the mind of the accused person. Entrapment defenses are especially difficult for defense attorneys to prove, usually because of the factual scenarios.
Contact Attorney Weisenburger now at 330-296-8000 (Ravenna) or 330-686-2890 (Stow) or via email. We offer free, confidential consultations and we quote fees right over the phone.