What are the Four Major Criminal Law Defenses

As your criminal trial is fast approaching, you may be doing all that you can to learn more about the four main categories of defenses available. Yet, don’t forget to educate yourself on the court proceedings and motion hearings too as they are integral components in any criminal case. Understanding each stage of the legal process will help ensure you have a fair chance at success in court.

Before you face the justice system, it is essential to equip yourself with a deep understanding of the related criminal law. After all that, do not forget to hire a reputable and qualified lawyer! Many people look for an inexpensive attorney but instead should focus on their credentials and past experiences; such an approach can make or break your trial.

You cannot and should not attempt to endure a criminal trial alone. There are experts who can help you through the process, but even so it is beneficial to have knowledge of the different types of criminal defenses available to you.

What are the four categories of criminal defenses?

When a criminal court looks to determine guilt for an accused, it must do so by determining ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. Thus, when defendants seek justice in the form of acquittal from such courts, their attorneys employ shrewd defense strategies that create this essential element of “reasonable doubt”.

When it comes to defending criminal cases, there are typically four primary strategies that may be employed: innocence, constitutional violations, self-defense, and insanity. Choosing the most suitable strategy for a case relies on both the particulars of the case as well as an attorney’s expertise and capability. Let us take a closer look at each of these crucial categories of legal defenses.


While pleading innocent may appear to be the most basic of defenses, yourself and your attorney must do more than just take the witness stand and declare you are not guilty. A lawyer will still need to carefully build a defense strategy around this claim in order for it to triumphantly close out the case.

Your lawyer should look for specialists and individuals to give testimonials, as well as help locate possible proof that could possibly point to your innocence. Occasionally the defense depends on evidence that clearly demonstrates another person is at fault for a crime, yet in other cases all you require are reliable alibi witnesses.

It’s the prosecution that must establish your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but don’t fret- you and your lawyer should concentrate on providing as much evidence and expert testimony to demonstrate your innocence.

Constitutional violations

Even if you are deemed guilty, you retain some fundamental rights given to all citizens of the United States. Unfortunately, these constitutional privileges are often violated during criminal proceedings, including with regard to how defendants are treated and evidence is collected. Such violations should never be taken lightly; everyone must remain conscious about their rights for secure fair justice.

An experienced criminal lawyer knows that when it comes to defending their client, one of the most effective tools is an unconstitutional violation. Oftentimes these violations can entirely dismiss a charge or persuade a prosecutor to accept a more lenient plea bargain. To ensure your case has every advantage possible, here are some of the Constitutional violations frequently used:

  1. Failing to communicate the Miranda warning to the defendant at the time of their arrest can have serious consequences.
  2. Unlawfully searching for and confiscating evidence from the home or automobile of an individual charged with a crime.
  3. Failing to secure a warrant
  4. Extracting a forced admission
  5. Disrupting the requisite preservation of collected evidence


Self-defense is commonly used as a legal defense for offenses such as battery, assault, and even murder. When claiming self-defense, the defendant asserts that their action of causing harm or taking another life was done in order to protect themselves against violent threats posed by the victim.

The movies may make self-defense look like a clear-cut and simple legal defense; however, the reality is that successfully claiming self-defense is much more complicated. In order to prove their claim, the defendant must show there was an imminent danger or risk forcing them to use excessive or deadly force in response.

Self-defense is a valid legal claim for those defending their loved ones, whether it be family or friends and even if the defendant was protecting a stranger. However, a successful self-defense case requires meticulous preparatory work from your attorney and an undeniable foundation of evidence to establish such grounds effectively.


Accusing mental illness in an effort to absolve oneself from a criminal accusation is effective only occasionally and implies that the defendant acknowledges guilt under mitigating circumstances. For the insanity defense to be successful, it falls on the lawyer for the accused to demonstrate unequivocally that it was due to their client’s disorder which provoked them into committing crime. Despite this seeming simple enough, proving this claim is extraordinarily challenging.

What makes the insanity defense difficult to prove?

When claiming the insanity defense, a criminal defense lawyer must demonstrate that the defendant was unable to discern right from wrong while committing their crime. Although this is typically difficult in itself, the added risk of having to admit guilt makes using this strategy particularly hazardous.