Understanding the Different Types of Defences – When & How You Could Use Them in Court?

Once you’re charged with a criminal offence, your next step would be to prepare to fight the charges. To do that, you need to know what are the available options you have to defend yourself. As you know, criminal defence is about strategic arguments for questioning and challenging the validity of evidence thrown at you by the prosecution. 


During the trial, the prosecution will make attempts on proving your guilt, so your defence strategy must focus on avoiding a guilty verdict. To do that, you must know the types of defences you and your defence counsel can use in court. Take a look at some of them below.


Self Defence


This type of defence is often used in homicide or assault cases where the defendant claims that s/he did the act out of self-defence. For this strategy, the accused must establish during the trial that if s/he didn’t take action, there’s a big chance that s/he will die at the hands of the attacker. 


Defence of Necessity


For this defence, the accused must establish the alleged act s/he was charged with was carried out because of specific circumstances. It means that the accused was put into a situation in which s/he has no other choice but to disregard/discount the law. For this defence, a set of criteria must be met for the court to accept or recognise the defence. They usually look at whether the unlawful act committed was necessary to avert a greater evil or not.


Defence of Duress


In criminal law, unlawful actions can be excused if the accused managed to establish that s/he was coerced or pressured into doing it. This type of defence is also called duress. The defence often arises when the defendant is threatened with the actual use of physical force which will leave the accused with no choice but to harm or attack the other party. One classic example of this is when someone is holding you at gunpoint or knife for that matter. 


Mistake of Law Defence


In this type of defence, the defendant claims that he was unaware that the action s/he has taken are illegal or unlawful. Generally, ignorance of the law excuses no one, but ignorance of the fact can be considered as a defence. An esteemed defence law firm can be used as part of the defence given that all the criteria are met during the trial.


Insanity Defence


For an insanity defence claim, the court would only accept it if the accused is suffering or had suffered from a mental disease or defect at the time the crime was committed. The defence counsel must be able to provide clear and sufficient evidence that the defendant is mentally unstable when the actions are committed.


To draw up a good defence strategy, you need a good understanding of defences and in what circumstances you must apply them. Knowing them will help you avoid any penalties or punishments and may even help you get rid of the charges. 

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