The American justice system entitles defendants who face criminal charges to legal representation. The Sixth Amendment provides indigent defense services to those who cannot afford legal representation, as the Bureau of Justice explains.
The outcome of your case may rely on the defense strategy you use. Depending on the charges, the right defense could be the difference between a positive outcome and spending decades behind bars.
If you are facing criminal charges in Florida, then contact Leader & Leader, P.A. A Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney will evaluate your charges and develop an aggressive defense. Call us today at 954-523-2020 to schedule a consultation.
In the meantime, read on to learn five common defenses against criminal charges in Florida:
- Self-Defense & Stand Your Ground
Self-defense is a common strategy for defendants who face charges for battery, murder and assault. You are legally entitled to protect yourself against someone who wants to harm you, but you cannot use more force than that used against you. For example, self-defense may be an effective strategy if someone was trying to kill you and you retaliated in kind, but it will not work if you used a baseball bat to beat someone who slapped you. More recently, this has evolved as part of the “Stand Your Ground” laws that have been adopted in Florida. They relevant statutes can be found in Chapter 776 of Florida Statutes beginning with §776.012. In short, these laws allow you to use force or threaten the use of force in defense of person or property. (A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend him, herself or against the imminent use of unlawful force…a person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force. Deadly force may be used when necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm). In fact, although self defense can be used as a defense, if the facts of your case qualify under “Stand Your Ground” you are immune from prosecution and your case may be subject to dismissal. At Leader & Leader, P.A. we have had success for our clients with self defense and stand your ground.
- Statute of Limitations & Speedy Trial
Questioning the statute of limitations is a simple defense and, in certain cases, is highly effective. The prosecuting authority must file formal charges within a specified timeframe. If this does not happen, then the court may dismiss your case and drop all charges against you. There are also issues with whether the accused was properly put on notice, when the charges were filed, when the warrant was served and several other highly technical defenses based upon statute of limitations, speedy trial and constitutional speedy trial rights. We have been successful in having many cases dropped or dismissed utilizing these laws to our client’s benefit.
Despite its popularity in the news and on TV, insanity is rarely an effective defense. However, if your attorney can prove insanity, then this may apply to your case. Your lawyer must provide the court you suffered mental incapacitation or a serious mental illness, making it impossible for you to establish right from wrong at the time of the crime and/or to appreciate the nature of your actions. As noted above, a true insanity defense and/or temporary insanity defense is rare but they do exist. We have handled two cases in the past few years in which qualified and respected medical professional s have support temporary insanity which gave our clients viable defenses to the very serious crimes charged.
- Coercion and Duress
Coercion may be an effective defense if someone forced you to commit a crime under threat of serious physical harm to you or your family, such as kidnapping your children so that you will rob a bank, or putting a gun to your head. If you can prove that you were under duress at the time of committing the crime, then this defense could work to your advantage.
- Affirmative Defenses
Coercion, insanity and self defense are types of affirmative defenses but there may be many others. An affirmative defense may entitle a defendant to acquittal despite the prosecution proving each and every element of the offense charged. The Defendant must assert and carry the burden of proof of the affirmative defense (as opposed to the State carrying the burden to prove the charges beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt) which the prosecution can then attempt to rebut. In addition to those noted above, mistake of fact or intoxication may be an affirmative defense to certain crimes. Another example may be abandonment of a conspiracy prior to your detection, arrest or the carrying out of a plan in a conspiracy charge.
There may be several defenses that apply to your case, and choosing right approach can mean the difference between freedom and incarceration. A criminal attorney can develop a defense based on the unique facts of your case. To get started, call Leader & Leader, P.A. at 954-523-2020 today.