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How Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help You

A criminal defense attorney’s job is to present your side of the story to the judge and jury. This may involve proving your innocence, showing that th

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A criminal defense attorney’s job is to present your side of the story to the judge and jury. This may involve proving your innocence, showing that the prosecution has not met their burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt or that other evidence exists that supports a lesser legal liability.

In cases involving sensitive information, prosecutors may seek supervisory approval to delay disclosure, make redactions, summarize the substance of an e-communication rather than disclose it in full or take other safeguarding measures.

Innocence Defense

Oftentimes criminal defense attorneys will work to uncover any constitutional violations or errors in the way evidence was collected. These could involve things like illegal search and seizure, failure to read a person their rights before interrogation, or improper confessions. If any improprieties are found, the entire case may be dismissed by the prosecution.

Actual innocence is a rare defense in criminal cases, but it can be very effective. It argues that the prosecutor failed to prove all of the elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

There are many types of affirmative criminal defenses. A common one is the justification defense, which is used when an accused admits to committing a crime but claims that it was justified under the circumstances. A variation on this is the entrapment defense, which argues that the accused was induced or persuaded to commit the crime by government agents. A similar type of defense is the diminished capacity defense, which alleges that a person did not understand or appreciate the consequences of their actions due to mental illness or disability.

Self-Defense

A criminal defense based on self-defense allows you to defend yourself against a crime by arguing that you believed and acted reasonably to protect yourself or others from physical harm. Self-defense is not always a complete defense to a crime, however it could lessen the charges or the punishment you face.

Two requirements are generally needed for a defendant to use self-defense: the threat must be imminent and the defendant must believe that the amount of force used is reasonable under the circumstances. The jury must evaluate the defendant’s response to determine if it is what a reasonable person would do under the same circumstances.

For example, suppose a classmate approaches you and balls up his fist in anticipation of a friendly “fist-bump.” You believe that this is an aggressive move and honestly believe that you are likely to be punched, so you fling your coffee cup at him. Even though this was unreasonable, you could be acquitted of assault with a deadly object or have a murder charge reduced to manslaughter under the theory of imperfect self-defense.

Illegal Searches

Law enforcement and state prosecutors are supposed to respect the constitutional rights of criminal defendants. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. Police may conduct searches that are either illegal or insufficient to support charges. Fortunately, a good attorney can often have the evidence found as a result of an unlawful search suppressed.

There are many different exceptions to the requirement that officers obtain a warrant based upon probable cause before searching property. These include exigent circumstances, consent, search incident to arrest, border searches, inventory search, automobile exception, hot pursuit, probation and parole searches, and stop and frisk searches.

A common example of an illegal search is when a police officer pulls you over for a minor traffic violation, smells marijuana coming from your trunk, and — without probable cause — decides to search the trunk. It’s important to respectfully say no when a cop asks to search your car and to get a criminal defense lawyer right away.

Entrapment

Entrapment is an affirmative defense that allows a defendant to argue that the police violated their rights by overly encouraging them to commit a crime they otherwise wouldn’t have committed. However, it is not easy to establish entrapment as it requires that the defendant prove both that law enforcement officers introduced the idea of committing a crime to them and that they were not “ready and willing” to commit such a crime without being induced by the police.

Most states use an objective standard for establishing entrapment, meaning that the defendant must prove that a reasonable jury would find that law enforcement officers’ actions (through threats, coercion, extended fraud, etc.) induced them to commit the crime charged in the case. In contrast, some states utilize a subjective standard in which the defendant must offer evidence that they were not predisposed to commit the crime. For example, if an undercover officer baits you into robbing a storefront, they must offer sufficient proof that Jim, the defendant, was ready and willing to rob that store because of his extensive rap sheet and desire to join a street gang.

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