What Are the 5 Defenses Against a Criminal Charge?

Matt Pinsker

October 3, 2022


If you have been accused of a crime, there are five primary defenses that you can assert. These include self-defense, diminished capacity, insanity, and consent. Lastly, you can claim insanity, which accepts that you were unaware you were doing anything wrong. However, this defense is used very rarely.

Exculpation defense vs. self-defense

Self-defense and exculpation defense are legal doctrines that apply to specific situations. In self-defense, the defendant acknowledges wrongdoing and can point to mitigating circumstances. In self-defense, the defendant may use deadly force to defend themself. Both doctrines are based on the belief that people should be able to protect themselves. In either case, the power or violence must be proportionate to the threat faced. There must also be no previous attacks for an individual to use self-defense.

A defendant may use a reasonable amount of force to defend themself. However, the jury must decide if the defendant’s staff was appropriate, given the danger to their life. The jury may reject the self-defense claim if a defendant uses excessive force. For example, killing a person with a baseball bat would be excessive force, while returning a slap would be a more reasonable retaliation.

Insanity defense vs. diminished capacity

In criminal cases, an insanity defense is often an option for a defendant. This defense relies on the defendant’s mental state during the crime or trial. It is important to note that this defense does not absolve a defendant of criminal responsibility; it simply changes the standard of proof.

The insanity defense is not always an option in criminal cases, mainly when the crime is a felony. However, in some jurisdictions, it is a viable option for the accused to avoid a lengthy or expensive trial. In these cases, the defendant may not have been capable of understanding what they were doing or even understanding that they were being tried.

Duress defense vs. mistake defense

When defending yourself against criminal charges, one of the most important defenses is the duress defense. This defense can help reduce or even dismiss charges. However, it is not applicable if you deliberately disregard the risks involved in committing the crime. In this case, you must have the assistance of an experienced New York Criminal Attorney who can help you establish the duress defense.

A necessity defense also exists in some situations. This defense is used when the defendant feels forced to do something by circumstances or other people. For example, this defense may be valid if the defendant was fleeing from a dangerous situation and was driving while impaired. However, it must only be used under exceptional circumstances, and the evidence must be strong. Moreover, the harm avoided by the defendant must be more than the damage caused.

Infancy defense vs. entrapment defense

The infancy defense is an argument based on the notion that a defendant is too young to commit a crime. This doctrine is a common law defense that argues that juveniles lack the cognitive and emotional maturity to be prosecuted as adults. While this theory is still considered valid in some cases, courts increasingly reject it.

The court will recognize entrapment as a valid defense when it can show that the government induced the defendant to commit a crime. To win an entrapment defense, a defendant must show that the government caused him to commit the crime and that he was not predisposed to do it. The reason may also be valid if the defendant resisted when approached by police.

Voluntary intoxication defense

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, you may be able to argue that you were intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. Involuntary intoxication is a defense that can apply in several circumstances, depending on the facts of the case. In some jurisdictions, voluntary intoxication can be an affirmative defense. The defendant must show he was intoxicated at the time of the offence.

To qualify as a defense, a person must show that he cannot fully control his body and mind due to the drug or alcohol. In some jurisdictions, voluntary drunkenness can be an affirmative defense where the defendant must prove he was intoxicated during the crime.