If you are charged with a crime, you could face time in jail or prison, fines and experience long-lasting personal and financial consequences, including having a criminal record. Once you are suspected of a crime, it’s essential to contact an attorney and develop a defense strategy.

Criminal defense strategies typically fall under one of two types. First, either the defendant is entirely innocent, or he or she did commit the crime, but they should not be held responsible due to extenuating circumstances.

Defense strategies for an innocent person

There are three primary defenses for people accused of crimes they did not commit:

  • Lack of proof: Under the U.S. justice system, a defendant is innocent until proven guilty, and the prosecution must prove that guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Your lawyer will attempt to discredit any evidence presented against you.
  • Mistaken identity: Many times, police arrest the wrong person for a crime due to investigative errors or inaccurate witness accounts.
  • Alibi: This type of evidence attempts to show the judge or jury that you were nowhere near the location where the incident happened and could not have physically committed the crime.

Defense strategies mitigating responsibility

In some cases, a person may have done what police allege, but there was a reasonable explanation of why they should not be penalized. These strategies include:

  • Self-defense: If you were protecting yourself or someone else, aggression could be mistaken for a crime.
  • Consent: Likewise, law enforcement can mistake consensual activity for a crime. However, this may not always lead to an acquittal.
  • Insanity: Defined as “the inability to distinguish right from wrong,” this strategy must be proven to a judge. The testimony of mental health or other health care professionals can be crucial.
  • Under the influence: While not a valid strategy for drunk or drugged driving, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be a legitimate defense to show you were not in a correct mental state when the crime was committed.
  • Entrapment: Law enforcement officials sometimes go to extremes to try to catch people committing crimes, but that can work against them if they go too far.

Understand the charges and your rights to defend yourself

Many people wrongly believe they have little chance to clear their name if they are charged with a crime. However, an experienced criminal defense attorney here in Montana can help them devise the best strategy to minimize the repercussions.

Your lawyer will protect your rights under the Constitution and work for the best possible outcome, whether it’s having the charges dropped, reducing the penalties through a plea agreement, or minimizing fines and time spent behind bars.