If you are charged with a crime, you will either be asked to plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead not guilty, you and your Vista criminal defense attorney will need to present a defense against the prosecution to show there is not enough evidence against you to prove your guilt. In order to do this, you and your lawyer will need to determine the best defense strategy (or strategies) for your specific circumstances. Here are some of the most common strategies used in Vista courts:
- Self defense: Easily the most commonly used defense in violent crimes cases, including domestic violence, self defense means that you reasonably believed you were in physical danger and used the minimum required physical force to prevent that danger. Self defense doesn’t actually have to be only on your own behalf, you can also be acting to protect others as well. Additionally, while the law states you used the minimum required physical force to prevent a danger, that can include homicide if killing the attacker was the only way to stop him or her from hurting you or someone else.
- Lack of evidence: No matter what the crime, it is the responsibility of the prosecution to prove your guilt. If they lack enough evidence to show you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, you should walk free.
- False accusations: These are especially common in sex crime cases, but can also be used in violent crime and theft cases. Essentially, any time the crux of a case rests with another person claiming they have been victimized by something you did, you may be able to use the false accusation defense.
- Lack of knowledge: While you need not know that something is against the law to be guilty of a crime, you do need to know you were doing the illegal act. For example, if you were driving a car full of drugs, but did not know because the vehicle belonged to a friend of yours, you are not guilty of transporting drugs. You can read more about how your knowledge of a crime will affect your case here.
- Accidents: People have accidents and in most cases, you cannot be found guilty for something that happened as a result of an accident. If you acted negligently or recklessly though, you may still be guilty of a lesser crime in some circumstances. For example, if you were driving and didn’t see a bicyclist making a turn in front of you and accidentally killed him, you probably wouldn’t face charges. If you were doing 60 in a 25 zone and ran a stop sign and then accidentally hit the cyclist though, you could face vehicular homicide charges.
- Forced confessions: It is hard to prove that a confession made to police was coerced through violence, but if you were left in an interrogation room for hours without food or water, it may be possible. This is particularly true if you asked to speak with your Vista defense attorney and your request was illegally denied by the police. Remember that just because you confessed does not always mean you need to plead guilty and that some confessions can be thrown out of court.
- Mistaken identity: Eye witness testimony is notoriously unreliable and just because someone says they saw you commit a crime does not mean you are guilty. In fact, some people have been put behind bars simply because they look like someone else, which is why arguing that your arrest is simply a case of mistaken identity is a much stronger defense than many believe.
- Lack of probable cause: This defense is particularly common in cases involving DUIs and drugs. Essentially if the police violated your rights by stopping you and searching your vehicle without probable cause, anything they found is inadmissible in court.
- Acting under duress: If you were forced to commit a crime because someone threatened to take your life or the life of someone else if you did not commit a crime, you acted under duress and can use this as your defense.
- A reliable alibi: If you can prove you were somewhere else when a crime was committed, it will be pretty difficult for the prosecutor to still prove you committed the crime.
It’s worth noting that while the insanity defense is perhaps the best known defense strategy to those outside the legal profession, it is actually one of the least commonly used and one of the least successful defenses available. This article goes into more detail as to why Vista criminal lawyers will almost never turn to the insanity defense.
If you have been accused of a crime and wish to plead innocent, do not say anything to the police until you first have your Vista defense attorney at your side. Remember that anything you say can later be used against you in court. To schedule a free consultation with experienced lawyer Peter M. Liss, please call (760) 643-4050.
Creative Commons Image by Matt Brown