When someone wants to defend against criminal charges, they need a strategy. Oftentimes, attorneys will help criminal defendants raise questions about the validity of the evidence gathered by the police or the accuracy of a witness’s identification of the defendant. Expert testimony, intense questioning of witnesses and even alibis can play a role in such strategies.
Usually, the goal is to raise questions about whether someone played a role in a criminal event at all. Such strategies can work well in some cases, but they aren’t necessarily the best option. When there is strong evidence connecting an individual to a specific incident, they may need to pursue a different approach to their defense. Raising an affirmative defense might be an option for those who believe that there is “too much” evidence tying them to a specific criminal incident.
What is an affirmative defense?
An affirmative defense is a strategy that focuses on changing how the courts view or interpret the situation. Instead of proving someone didn’t strike another person, for example, the intent is to instead show that the physical contact did not violate state law. Texas has numerous state statutes and previous court rulings that establish special exceptions for criminal laws. For example, behavior that would typically constitute assault may not be technically illegal if someone acts in self-defense. Explaining to the courts that what looked like assault was really an attempt to stop a crime in progress could be a viable defense strategy in some cases.
There are numerous affirmative defenses that people can raise in a criminal trial. Temporary lack of capacity, duress and self-defense are among the most common affirmative defenses that people utilize. Instead of trying to prove they didn’t break the law, they will try to show that the intent was not to commit a crime.
An affirmative defense is only one of many options available to those who face criminal charges and want to avoid a conviction. Learning more about common criminal defense strategies with the assistance of a legal professional may help individuals to choose the strongest and most effective path forward.