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Types Of Criminal Defense



A criminal defendant faces possible prison time, huge fines and an uncertain future. To protect your rights and possibly minimize the charges or even have them dismissed, here are some common types of criminal defenses that a criminal attorney may present:

  • Search and seizure - Law enforcement must have probable cause or a reasonable suspicion that you violated some law before stopping or detaining you. A search must be either very limited or follow an arrest, or the items seized must be in plain sight. If a search warrant is issued, it must be validly obtained, attested to, verified and limited in its scope and the items to be seized.
  • Mistaken identity - Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. A witness may identify you because you resemble the actual offender based on a photograph or someone else's description.
  • Police misconduct - Planting incriminating evidence, embellishing facts, lying about following certain procedures and using excessive force are some examples.
  • Self-defense - Your actions must be reasonable in defending yourself against an attack. You must believe you were in imminent danger and used only as much force as reasonably necessary to repel the attack.
  • Intoxication - This may not excuse you, but your attorney may use this defense to show whether you had the requisite mental state to commit crimes requiring specific intent.
  • Freedom of expression - Protesting in the streets, using illegal substances in a recognized religion or presenting art that some people view as pornographic may be defended on freedom of expression grounds as guaranteed in the First Amendment.
  • Lack of intent - For some crimes, the prosecution must show that the offender intended the precise harm that occurred or the result. For instance, burglary requires the breaking into a dwelling with the specific intent to commit a felony, such as stealing an expensive item.
  • Diminished capacity - Diminished capacity is based on psychological or psychiatric testimony that the defendant had a mental disorder or defect that significantly impaired his or her ability to form the requisite intent to commit the offense.

Other types of criminal defense will depend upon the nature of the charges and the facts of your case.