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What are the two main categories of criminal defenses?

On Behalf of | Oct 19, 2022 | Criminal Defense

There are dozens of different kinds of criminal offenses that exist under both Arkansas state law and federal statutes. Individuals arrested by the police and arraigned by a prosecutor will either need to plead guilty to the charges brought against them or prepare a strategy to fight those charges in criminal court.

The best approach to criminal defense vary significantly in different situations. However, you can group defenses into two distinct categories. Understanding the two main kinds of defenses will help you choose the best strategy for your case.

Standard criminal defenses

If you want to prove that you did not break the law or that it was another person who committed a crime, you will mount a standard criminal defense. The goal is to exclude certain evidence from court or raise questions about the accuracy of that evidence. Ideally, you can connect someone else to the crime or show that there are major issues with the evidence the prosecution intends to present.

Some of the strategies employed could include bringing in your own expert witnesses or presenting evidence that shows you had an alibi at the time of the alleged offense. You could try to show that someone else benefited from the crime rather than you or that the state made mistakes in its analysis of the situation.

Challenging or excluding certain evidence from the trial could also fall under this category. Those who assert that a violation of their Miranda Rights or Fourth Amendment rights occurred could prevent the prosecutor from using a confession or certain physical or chemical evidence in the courtroom.

Affirmative defenses

Sometimes, you don’t disagree with the claim that you did something, but you assert that it was not illegal. For example, someone accused of homicide could claim that they acted in self-defense or in an effort to protect someone else from impending criminal activity.

Affirmative defenses involve trying to change how the state views your actions rather than trying to disprove you committed certain acts. Insanity defenses, self-defense claims and other attempts to reframe the context of an incident might constitute an affirmative defense.

In scenarios where there is limited evidence, a standard criminal defense might be the best option. However, when there is significant evidence related to a case, an affirmative defense may be the better option. Choosing the best defense strategy in your case will give you the most hope of prevailing against your pending criminal charges.