Common Criminal Defense Strategies in Colorado
Posted By: Jacob Martinez
Criminal defense is a very complex branch of law. In almost all cases, it is unwise for a defendant to attempt to represent themselves in a court of law. For the best chance at getting a positive outcome, you want a world-class defense attorney on your side.
But it’s not enough just to hire a good criminal lawyer – you also need to make sure that you contact them as soon as possible. Why? Because crafting a solid defense takes time, and the sooner a knowledgeable professional starts working on your case, the better off you’ll be.
The more time that they have, the more likely it is that they will be able to look at multiple potential defense strategies to determine which one is best for your unique situation.
Types of Defense Strategies
Almost all defense strategies will try to prove one of two things:
1.) The accused didn’t commit the crime.
2.) The accused did commit the crime, but should not be punished for it.
In certain scenarios, defense lawyers may be able to successfully argue to get your charges dropped altogether. But even if that is not possible, they know how to make a case for a plea bargain to have your charges reduced. For this reason, contacting an attorney can be help even if you intend to plead guilty or you feel the evidence is overwhelmingly against you.
Below we have listed the three most common categories of defense strategies:
Denial. A strategy where the defendant states they are completely innocent of the crime. In the legal system, defendants are innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt, and the burden of proof is on the prosecution. In this strategy, the defense will attempt to produce alibis and call into question the legitimacy of the evidence presented by the prosecution.
Admission. When using this strategy, the defense will concede that some of the prosecution’s information is true, but argue that the conclusion they came to is incorrect. For example, if witness testimony places the accused at the scene of a robbery, the defense might acknowledge that the accused was in fact present, but as an innocent bystander, not the perpetrator .
Confession. The defense admits guilt, but calls to light evidence that may lead to a lesser charge and/or punishment. The defense may point to a defendant’s record of good citizenship, or extenuating circumstances like intoxication or self-defense.
A Closer Look at Confession Strategies
While denial and admission attempt to prove innocence, confession strategies admit the accused did commit the crime. This may seem like a terrible idea at first. After all, saying “Okay, I did it,” doesn’t seem like much of a defense.
However, the strength of this strategy lies in the fact that factors surrounding your actions should lead to a reduced sentence, a lesser charge, or even no charge at all. There are many specific strategies within this category that deserve a closer look. Here are a few examples:
Self-Defense. Self-defense argues that the accused’s actions were committed in reasonable protection of self. For example, if the prosecution accused you of assault and battery, your criminal attorney might acknowledge that you did get into a physical altercation, but only because you feared for your safety.
Coercion and Duress. A defense strategy that seeks to prove the defendant or someone close to the defendant was unlawfully threatened into committing a crime. This defense is invalid if your own reckless behavior is what caused the duress. For example, if you became involved with a gang willingly, and they unlawfully force you to rob a store, you would still be culpable for that robbery because you initially decided to join them of your own volition.
Insanity. Though a convenient and entertaining plot device in movies and television, in real life the insanity defense is rarely used and seldom effective. When it is utilized, this defense seeks to prove that the defendant was not responsible for his or her actions at the time of the crime due to mental illness. The defense must produce compelling evidence of a severe mental disease or defect, and proof this condition made the defendant unable to distinguish right from wrong. In most cases, a successful insanity defense results in the defendant being committed to a mental institution instead of being imprisoned.
Intoxication. In some jurisdictions, intoxication can be used to argue that the defendant was not in control of his or her actions during the crime. This is usually only a strong defense if the accused was involuntarily intoxicated. For example, if their drink was spiked. In some cases, however, even voluntarily intoxication may be used to attempt to diminish the defendant’s intent. One example is to reduce a murder charge to a manslaughter charge.
What Is the Best Defense Strategy for Me?
The strategies criminal lawyers use vary widely from case to case. The strategy that best fits your situation depends on many factors, including your background, local laws, and the situation surrounding the crime you are charged with.
The best way to develop a strong defense is by contacting an experienced defense attorney. Your specific strategy will become clearer as your criminal attorney learns more about the prosecution’s case, and after he or she hears your side of the story. Regardless of the strategy best suited for your particular case, the experience of your legal team may mean the difference between winning and losing.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.