Prosecutors must prove defendants guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in order to successfully convict them of a particular crime. All defendants benefit from the presumption of innocence–meaning they are presumed innocent until the prosecution proves them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendants are given the opportunity to present a defense through their Florida criminal defense lawyer, ranging from “I didn’t do it” to “I did it, but didn’t know right from wrong when I did it.” If you have been accused of committing a crime, your Florida criminal defense lawyer may advise you to use one of several defenses during your trial.
It Wasn’t Me!
Most defendants plead innocent to crimes through their Florida criminal defense lawyer, stating that they did not commit the act in question.
The Alibi Defense:
Some defendants mount an alibi defense through their Florida criminal defense lawyer, meaning they claim to be somewhere other than the crime scene at the time the crime was committed. In order for this defense to succeed, the defendant must present corroborating evidence that proves he or she truly was somewhere else at the time of the crime. For instance, various witnesses testifying that they saw the defendant elsewhere, or signed credit card receipts showing the defendant was miles away from the crime scene.
I Did It, But…
Sometimes, even when the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed a crime, the defendant can still avoid punishment by mounting (and proving) the following defenses:
A defendant’s Florida criminal defense lawyer may claim that the defendant acted in self-defense if charged with a violent crime, such as assault with a deadly weapon, battery, or murder. In these cases, the defendant admits he or she did commit the crime, but that their action was justified due to the victim’s threatening actions. At the heart of proving self-defense are the following questions:
Self-defense is based on the belief that people have the basic right to protect themselves from physical harm. This defense doesn’t require that a person wait until he or she is actually struck to act in self-defense. The law states that, if a reasonable person faced with the same circumstances would believe he or she was about to be physically attacked, then the person has the right to strike first to prevent the attack. However, he or she may not use more force than is reasonable or face being found guilty of a crime even though acting in self-defense.
The Insanity Defense:
Insanity defenses are based on the principle that defendants should only be punished if they were capable of controlling his or her behavior and understanding that the act he or she committed was wrong. This defense exists to protect those people suffering from mental disorders that prevent them from knowing or choosing right from wrong.
Mounting an insanity defense through a Florida criminal defense lawyer is not all that often successful, however. Despite several high profile cases utilizing this defense, defendants actually rarely enter pleas of “not guilty by reason of insanity.” And when they do, judges and juries rarely go for it.
Even defendants who are found not guilty by reason of insanity will not be automatically set free. They will typically be confined to a mental institution until their sanity can be established. These defendants can wind up spending more time in a mental institution than they might have spent in prison if they had been found guilty, especially if they are dangerous to themselves and/or others.
Under the Influence:
Sometimes, Florida criminal defense lawyers representing clients who commit crimes while under the influence of alcohol or drugs will argue that their clients’ mental capacities were so impaired that they shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions. Voluntary intoxication doesn’t usually wash as a defense, however. Defendants know or should have known that alcohol and drugs impair mental functioning and should thus be held legally responsible should they commit crimes due to their own voluntary usage.
Entrapment happens when the government induces a person to commit a crime they would not have otherwise committed, and then attempts to punish them for that crime. The defendant may still be found guilty, however, should the judge or jury find that a suspect would have committed that crime anyway, even if the government agent suggested the crime. Defendants previously convicted of a similar crime will have a hard time proving entrapment.
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