What Are the 4 Types of Defenses?

Matt Pinsker

March 21, 2023

What Are the 4 Types of Defenses? If you are charged with a crime, four types of defences can help mitigate or even avoid the consequences. These include alibi, insanity, self-defence, and duress or coercion. A criminal attorney will help you determine which one applies to your case, and then they will argue in court. They hope they will provide enough doubt in the judge or jury’s minds to acquit you. 


The Latin word alibi means “elsewhere,” and it is an important defence against a criminal charge. This defence, when successful, can result in a not-guilty verdict for the defendant.

The defence must have convincing proof that the defendant was elsewhere when the crime occurred to be effective. This can include surveillance video, phone records, time-stamped documents and more.

An experienced New Mexico criminal defence attorney will work with you to determine the best way to prove your alibi and build an effective defence strategy.

When a person is charged with a crime, giving the prosecutor advanced notice of any defences you intend to present at trial is important. This notice must include the names and addresses of witnesses, what types of testimony they will testify about, and any real evidence you plan to present.


Insanity is a term used to describe a person who is unable to understand the nature of their actions or cannot distinguish right from wrong. The term is a legal one and not a medical one.

In the criminal world, insanity is a defence against a criminal charge. It is used in about 1% of all court cases.

The defence relies on a mental illness that interfered with the defendant’s ability to understand the nature of their behaviour or to distinguish right from wrong. The defence is successful in about 26% of these cases.

The insanity defence is legitimate and appropriate but should be supplemented with men’s rea and diminished capacity defences. States should not replace the insanity defence with a “guilty but mentally ill” verdict, which is inappropriate and unjust.


Self-Defence is an affirmative defence that allows a defendant to use physical force in response to an attack. However, self-defence is only legitimate if the defendant reasonably believed they were in danger during the attack.

Usually, the danger must be imminent. This means that it must be an immediate threat to the victim. What Are the 4 Types of Defenses?

A defendant must also have a reasonable belief that the perpetrator will act in a way that will cause them harm. This is a subjective judgment, and it is up to the jury to decide whether the defendant believed it was necessary to use violence to defend against that danger.

In addition to this, the force used must be proportional to the threat faced. This is a very important rule when using deadly force in self-defence.

Duress or Coercion

Duress or coercion is a defence that can be used to excuse a defendant from a criminal charge. It involves another party threatening to use force or violence to get someone to act against their better judgment. What Are the 4 Types of Defenses?

A person can commit a crime under duress when threatened with serious bodily injury or death if they don’t do something. This can happen when a bad actor points a gun at you and says, “I will kill you if you don’t steal that car.”

To defend yourself, you must show that the threat was constant and that a reasonable person would have been afraid. The court will dismiss the duress defence if you don’t meet this requirement.