Below is a brief description of some of the most common legal defenses applicable to California criminal offenses.
Mistaken identification is when a crime victim or eyewitness mistakenly identifies someone as the perpetrator of a crime even though that person did not commit the crime.
Duress or Immediate Danger
Duress excuses criminal culpability when an individual only commits the crime because another person's threats or dangerous actions compel them to do so.
Many California offenses include deliberate offenses in which the violator intentionally carried out the crime. If the individual did not act with negligence and was not motivated by any other criminal purpose, the legal defense of accident should be a substantial defense against the charge.
An individual cannot be guilty of an offense if they were elsewhere when the crime occurred and therefore could not have committed the alleged crime. Evidence is required to corroborate the alibi.
Police have been known to coerce false admissions from innocent suspects using different strategies. Police may not use oppressive measures to coerce an involuntary confession. If evidence of coercion can be shown, then the admission may be excluded.
In the event that there is evidence of police misconduct or abuse and excessive force, it may provide bargaining power for dismissing the case.
The law requires police to have probable cause that an individual has committed a crime before they can detain or arrest an individual. If probable cause did not exist, then the defense can file a motion to suppress any illegally obtained evidence.
Self Defense/Defense of Others
The law allows individuals to use appropriate force to defend themselves (or others) when the force used is reasonable and escape is not a feasible option. The individual's actions must be reasonable under the circumstances.
Mistake of Fact
If an alleged offense was made under a reasonable and honest mistake of fact, and not with malicious intent, then the individual is not guilty of certain criminal offenses
Entrapment applies when an individual commits an offense because of threats, harassment or coercion from police or their agents.
It is common for individuals to get prosecuted based on false accusations. In these situations, the defense can attempt to get the accuser to provide a recanting statement or otherwise point out contradictions in the original accusation.
The insanity defense applies when an individual is unable to understand the nature of their act or if they lack the ability to tell between right and wrong.
Criminal conduct is excused when done to avoid greater harm and there is no other feasible option but to commit a criminal offense.
Involuntary intoxication happens when an individual unintentionally consumes alcohol or drugs and thereafter becomes intoxicated. This is typically a defense to almost any offense.
The law protect protects individuals from being prosecuted a second time for the same offense following an acquittal or a conviction (but typically not a mistrial), and facing multiple punishments for the same offense.
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