When a criminal law attorney examines a case, they have to make some choices about how to present it. As a client, you should understand why a criminal defense attorney might elect to handle your situation in a certain way. Here are four issues they'll consider when choosing a defense.
The Legal Nature of the Alleged Crime
Not all defenses work for all crimes. For example, the recent introduction of a law banning something in one state that is legal in a neighboring state might allow you to claim ignorance as a defense. This happens sometimes when laws against newly introduced street drugs are added. Conversely, statutory rape is always a crime even if you were 100% sure the victim was of age.
A criminal law attorney has to think about whether a defense is usable. If a client is facing a statutory rape charge, they have to be careful with any admission of sexual contact with the victim. This significantly influences the type of defense you can present.
How Solid the Justification for Case Is
The law does not require you to present a defense on the merits of what the prosecution presents. A criminal defense attorney may choose to attack why and how the prosecution developed the case.
In cases related to traffic stops, for example, there are often questions about why the police pulled the defendant over. The cops can't just pull over random cars. Likewise, even if they have reasonable suspicion based on a similar car leaving a nearby crime scene, they can only detain you without probable cause for a few minutes.
Is There an Affirmative Defense?
The classic affirmative defense is self-defense in an assault case. Your basic argument in such a case is that the events described are accurate, but they don't constitute a crime because of the circumstances. If you feared for your life, you can present a defense stating as much.
One thing to be aware of is that an affirmative defense should be airtight. It's one of the rare instances where the burden of proof moves toward the defendant. If there's evidence that will blow a client's self-defense claim out of the water, such as video of the client following the other party, it's not wise to present an affirmative defense.
Multiple Lines of Defense
You should also be aware that a criminal defense attorney may present multiple arguments. While asserting an affirmative defense, for example, you also have the right to still question why you were charged and how the police collected evidence. Leave no stone unturned.
For more information, contact a law firm like Daniels Long & Pinsel.
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