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The four major criminal law defenses — Legal glossary

· 5 minute read

· 5 minute read

Concise definitions of the four main criminal law defenses that can be used to escape criminal liability

Legal termscriminal law • criminal law defense

 

According to Black Law’s Dictionary criminal defense is “the field of criminal law concerning the rights of a defendant accused of a crime and the legal theories that negate elements of crimes” (471).

There are four major criminal law defenses to escape criminal liability of different types of criminal law.

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Constitutional violation

Innocence


Insanity


Self defense


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Constitutional violation

This defense is based on the fact that a person’s constitutional rights were violated when they were arrested or charged with a crime. For example, if a person was not read their Miranda Rights when they were arrested, they may be able to use this defense in court.

Innocence

The second major criminal law defense is innocence. This defense allows a person to assert that they are not guilty of the penal action that they have been accused of. To prove their innocence, a person can provide evidence to show that they could not have committed the crime in question.

Insanity

The third major criminal law defense is insanity. This defense is based on the idea that a person did not understand the nature of their actions when they committed a crime or that they could not control their behavior. This defense is often used in cases of murder or other serious crimes.

Self-defense

The fourth major criminal law defense is self-defense. This defense is based on the idea that a person was acting in self-defense when they committed a crime. To use this defense, a person must be able to prove that they were in danger and that their actions were necessary to protect themselves or others.

 

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No matter what defense is used, it is important to remember that all individuals who are accused of a crime are innocent until proven guilty as per criminal law statutes.

It is the prosecution’s responsibility to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person is guilty of the crime they have been accused of. In some cases, individuals may be able to use one or more of the major criminal law defenses to establish their innocence. 

  • Criminal defense negates elements of crimes to escape criminal liability.
  • Constitutional violation defense asserts that a person’s constitutional rights were violated during arrest or charging.
  • Innocence defense allows a person to assert they are not guilty and provides evidence to prove it.
  • Insanity defense asserts that a person did not understand their actions or could not control their behavior due to mental illness.
  • Self-defense defense asserts that a person acted to protect themselves or others from imminent danger.

 

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