Being charged with a criminal offense is a very serious matter, and it's important to understand all of your options. Of course, you can plead guilty and hope for a light sentence, but many people prefer to defend themselves against the charges. This article takes a look at some of the possible defenses you have at your disposal when charged with a crime.


One of the strongest defenses to a criminal charge is to declare that you did not commit the crime and that the prosecutor has charged the wrong person. This defense has the advantage of making the prosecution prove that you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Your defense will be much stronger, however, if you have an alibi. When you have witnesses who put you in another location at the same time that the crime occurred, it's possible to undermine the prosecution's entire case against you. Keep in mind however that the prosecutor has the right to challenge you alibi and to cross-examine your witnesses.


Another potential defense is self-defense. For example, if you caused serious bodily harm to another person because they were attempting to assault you, a claim of self-defense could be accepted in court. To be successful with this type of claim, you must show that a reasonable person in the same situation would have felt threatened with imminent harm. Also, the amount of force you employ when defending yourself must be in proportion to the type of threat you are facing. For example, if someone merely slaps your hand or arm and you seriously injure them, the self-defense justification is not going to succeed.


A third defense is known as coercion or duress. If someone threatens you with serious bodily harm unless you commit a crime, this means you might not be held responsible for the crime under the law. The coercion or duress defense has a significant exception. Many states do not accept this defense when someone is charged with murder.


Entrapment is a frequently seen defense that is possible in rare instances. For example, if an undercover law enforcement officer gets someone to sell illegal drugs by saying the individual will face gang retaliation if he or she doesn't commit the crime, the entrapment defense comes into play.

The best defense strategy when you are facing a criminal trial depends on various factors such as what crime you are charged with and the relevant state laws. Only a criminal defense attorney can tell you how to proceed, so always consult a qualified lawyer in this situation.