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3 affirmative defenses that can work and 1 that won’t

On Behalf of | Feb 26, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Straightforward criminal defense involves someone responding to allegations of wrongdoing by asserting they did not break the law. There are numerous means of mounting a successful defense, from providing a compelling alibi to preventing the consideration of certain evidence in criminal court.

Such defenses aren’t always the best option. Some defendants facing charges backed by strong evidence or those charged with a crime because of truly unusual circumstances may need to consider the possibility of instead mounting an affirmative defense.

Affirmative defense strategies seek to interpret the law in favor of the defendant. They claim that the person’s actions were not illegal because of some special circumstance. Affirmative defense strategies can benefit those worried about the strength of a prosecutor’s case.

What are affirmative defense strategies?

A criminal defense attorney might try to convince the courts that someone’s actions did not technically violate the law because of unusual circumstances. An affirmative defense is more about the story that accompanies the basic facts of a case rather than the facts themselves.

Perhaps the best-known affirmative defense involves self-defense claims. Texas has numerous statutes and prior legal rulings affirming the right of an individual to protect themselves, other people and their own property from criminal activity. There are several other common affirmative defenses, including claims of coercion and duress. A lack of capacity, possibly due to mental health issues, could also play a role in affirmative defense strategies.

However, voluntary intoxication is an important exception. State law specifically prohibits those who knowingly drink too much alcohol or consume mind-altering drugs from using their intoxicated state as a means of avoiding criminal culpability for their actions. Proving that someone acted due to duress because of threats against family members could be a viable defense strategy, but blaming someone’s drinking habit likely will not be.

Every case has unique considerations

No one defense strategy works in every scenario. One of the reasons people need the support of legal professionals is because it is quite difficult to interpret the evidence the state has and the statutes someone allegedly violated to develop a viable defense strategy.

Reviewing state evidence and learning more about how affirmative defenses work can help those hoping to fight back against pending criminal charges in Texas.