San Diego Criminal Lawyer Explains Common Defenses

San Diego Criminal Defense LawyerSan Diego Criminal Lawyer
As a criminal defense attorney, many of the questions I get from clients relate to the possible defenses.  My clients want to know what defenses I am going to use to fight the case.  While each case is different, and will have different available defenses, this article provides a good baseline of the common defenses that might apply to criminal offenses.  These defenses may be presented at trial, a preliminary hearing, in a motion to dismiss, or in plea negotiations.
This article provides an explanation of some of the most common defenses available in criminal defense cases in San Diego and other California counties.

MISTAKEN IDENTITY
Eyewitness testimony is inherently unreliable, but among the most trusted by juries.  Even video footage, particularly from low-grade surveillance equipment, can be too blurry to really identify someone.  In many San Diego criminal cases, it is not really in dispute that a crime took place, but the defense may be that the defendant was not the person who committed the crime.  If, for example, someone robs a convenience store, and police later arrest someone who meets the description a few blocks away, the defense of mistaken identity would likely apply.  The prosecution has the burden to prove that the defendant is in fact the person who committed the crime.  They would try to establish this through eyewitness testimony, video footage, and circumstantial evidence like what the defendant had on his person when arrested.  If a witness identifies the defendant in handcuffs, in the back of a police car, in court or under other suggestive circumstances, this must be emphasized to the judge and jury.  Additionally, expert witnesses can testify to the problems in relying on eyewitness testimony.

ALIBI
If a defendant is being accused of committing a crime at a particular time and place, either due to a mistake of identity, a false accusation or another mistake of fact, establishing that the defendant was in fact somewhere else at the time the crime was committed might help to cast doubt on the prosecution's case.  Years ago, it was difficult to establish an alibi and it was typically done through the use of an alibi witness.  The alibi witness' testimony (especially if there is a family or friend relationship) can be dismissed by the jury.  Today, however, we have the benefit of many technological advances for establishing an alibi.  Video footage, use of a debit card, use of public transit, travel tickets, GPS in a smart phone and more can go to establish that a defendant is not guilty of the charged crime. 

FALSE ACCUSATIONS
False accusations are more common than many may think.  Unfortunately, there are many motivations to make a false accusation.  Among the most common are false accusations in domestic violence and rape cases.  False accusations may be used as leverage in divorce or child custody proceedings, for vengeance, or the true perpetrator of the crime may wish to deflect blame onto another person.  Additionally, there is an immigration benefit to being the victim of a violent crime, leading many illegal immigrants to make false accusations of violence to benefit from a visa provided to such victims.  Police, prosecutors, judges and even juries have a tendency to believe those who claim to be victims of a crime, and proving that an accusation is false can be difficult.  It takes careful investigation, skilled cross-examination and effective presentation to the judge or jury.  False accusations can be challenged by pointing out flaws and inconsistencies in the story, showing the complaining witness' bias or history of lies, and having the defendant or other witnesses testify to what really happened.  If you have been falsely accused of a crime, you need a skilled criminal defense attorney to assert your innocence and defend you.

SELF-DEFENSE
Assault, battery, aggravated assault, assault on a peace officer, attempted murder, manslaughter, and even murder charges might be defensible under a theory of self-defense or defense of others.  In order to successfully assert self-defense, it must be that the force used was reasonably necessary to prevent an imminent danger.  This means that retribution ("getting even") for past violence, if it has stopped, does not qualify as self defense.  This is true no matter how short a time has passed; the threat must be ongoing or imminent.  Overly disproportionate violence will also not justify the acts on self-defense grounds.  Self-defense must be carefully presented because it usually requires a defendant to testify admitting to violent acts that might otherwise be criminal.  Consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney at The Loncar Law Firm to discuss your options..

ENTRAPMENT
Entrapment is a topic that most people understand, but also one that police are trained to work around.  The actual protection under the entrapment defense is pretty narrow.  It is not enough that an officer merely solicit the criminal act, but the defense must show that they would not have otherwise committed the crime.  Officers and prosecutors are careful to present a case where the officers' actions fall short of entrapment.  Police will often attempt to give the defendant an "out" or question the defendant pre or post arrest to get admissions of similar past acts.  This defense is common in prostitution and solicitation of prostitution cases, and sometimes in undercover drug sales operations.  Your San Diego Criminal Lawyer can help to establish that the officer(s) crossed the line, getting an otherwise innocent person to commit a crime.  This is a common, but counterproductive law enforcement tactic. 

NECESSITY AND DURESS
The defense of necessity can be asserted where a crime was committed, but doing so was reasonably necessary to avoid a greater harm.  One common example of this defense involves destruction of property in order to save someone.  Duress is a little bit more complex, and is a defense available in cases where the defendant committed a crime because of threats from another person.  A person might be threatened into serving helping with a crime (for example: as a look out ), or even threatened into a larger role in a crime/committing the offense alone.  The defendant cannot rightfully be culpable under these circumstances, and it is important to fight any charges that result from necessity and duress.

INSANITY DEFENSE
The insanity defense is a difficult concept to understand.  Many of the most dangerous, culpable criminals would be described as "insane" or "crazy" but the insanity defense is much more specific, not applying to just any person.  Asserting the insanity defense in California, requires a showing of one of the following: (1) the defendant did not understand the true nature of the act, or (2) the defendant is not able to differentiate between right and wrong.  In this way, people who suffer from mental illness to such a degree as to be unable to understand the consequences of their actions, or to understand why their actions are wrong may be able to assert insanity as a defense.  If you or a loved one is facing a serious criminal charge and may be able to assert the insanity defense, it is important to have an intelligent, knowledgeable attorney on your side.  Consult with a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney now.

VOLUNTARY AND INVOLUNTARY INTOXICATION
Being drunk or under the influence of drugs by ones own volition (voluntary intoxication) is generally not available as a defense in criminal cases.  The law reasons that one of the risks someone takes when choosing to use drugs or alcohol is that they will do something stupid or dangerous.  Voluntary intoxication can, however, serve as a limited defense, showing a lack of specific intent in specific intent crimes.  For example, burglary requires the intent to commit a crime at the time of entry, but trespass does not.  If a person enters the wrong home by accident, while impaired, the voluntary intoxication does not excuse the criminal trespass, but would negate the intent element required to prove burglary.  It is important to discuss all of the facts of your case with your attorney, including whether drugs or alcohol were involved.  Being drugged without your knowledge (involuntary intoxication) provides a broader defense in many criminal cases.  Involuntary intoxication is uncommon, but may be an excellent defense to a crime.

REASONABLE DOUBT
One of the hallmarks of our criminal justice system is the idea of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  Ultimately, the burden is on the government to prove the defendant's guilt.  And it is a very high burden.  Poking holes in the government's theory of the case is one of the most effective, and most common ways to fight a criminal case.  The burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest burden our courts employ, and this is because of how much is at stake.  Still, juries are predisposed to make decisions based on a smaller burden.  We are not wired to act only when reasonably certain, but it is important for your lawyer to get the jury to look at the case through the appropriate lens, and only to find you guilty if the government can prove each element of the crime(s) charged beyond a reasonable doubt.  Even if the jurors believe that the defendant is probably guilty at the end of a trial, they must vote not guilty.  It takes a very good lawyer to get the jury to understand this and actually apply it.

IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE ARE FACING CRIMINAL CHARGES IN SAN DIEGO, YOU NEED A PASSIONATE, AGGRESSIVE AND KNOWLEDGEABLE CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY TO ASSERT YOUR RIGHTS AND DEFENSES AND FIGHT FOR YOU IN COURT.  CONTACT THE LONCAR LAW FIRM NOW FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.  619-930-9515.

The information provided in this article is not meant to be a substitute for a case-specific evaluation of your defenses by a criminal defense attorney.  It is important to understand the criminal justice process to make informed decision.  Having an attorney on your side is very important.  Feel free to contact our office anytime to discuss the details of your case, the possible and likely outcomes, and how to best go about fighting the case to help you.  Speak to a passionate, aggressive and experienced San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney today.

COMMON DUI DEFENSES:

RISING B.A.C.

MOUTH ALCOHOL

PROBABLE CAUSE FOR STOP

TESTING ACCURACY
PROPER TESTING PROCEDURE

DRIVING PATTERN

FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS

MEDICAL CONDITIONS

Nicholas M. Loncar, Esq.
San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney
San Diego DUI Lawyer
www.iDefendSanDiego.com
T: 619-930-9515
F:
619-930-9516
By Nicholas Loncar    
 


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