Skip to main content

Criminal Law

Search for an Attorney  

Defense Strategies in Criminal Cases

Defense strategies in criminal cases vary from one case to the next. Though there will be similarities, your attorney's chosen strategy is usually changing and shifting based on the details of the case. This has to do with the prosecution's approach; the defense has to counter what the prosecution is doing. A criminal defense attorney may have to change the strategy based on evidence the prosecution presents and what witnesses say.

A successful criminal defense can provide reasonable doubt in court about whether you committed the crime you are charged with.

Common Criminal Defense Strategies

Common criminal defenses include:

  • The defendant's alibi
  • Police misconduct
  • No probable cause
  • Self-defense
  • Insanity
  • Expired statute of limitations
  • Constitutional issues

Your lawyer will lay out their strategy before the case goes to court, but that does not mean it will never change. For example, your defense lawyer may decide it is best to show why you, the defendant, were not at the scene of the crime, giving you an alibi and proving that it was impossible for you to commit the crime.

In the courtroom, though, the prosecution may produce a witness or hard evidence like video footage showing that you were indeed at the scene. When this happens, the defense will need to shift to cast doubt on the video's authenticity or show why you, even if you were present, are not guilty.

The Role of the Truth

People sometimes believe that a defense lawyer will simply lie about what the defendant did or did not do, but the fact is that this is not usually the case. Simply telling the truth plays a much more significant role in the case.

Two true accounts can reach a jury in a very different fashion, depending on the facts the prosecution and the defense use. The prosecution may show that a robbery suspect was indeed in the store at the time of the robbery. Still, they may leave out the fact that the theft occurred on the second floor, and the video footage puts the defendant on the escalator or the first floor. Getting the whole truth of the situation will often lead to dropped charges as the full reality becomes clear.

The Defendant's Mindset

Some criminal defense strategies involve showing what the defendant was thinking or feeling, which demonstrates why the defendant did not want to be involved in a crime, even if there is some evidence linking them to the event.

For example, friends may ask you to drive a car to the bank, not realizing that they are planning a robbery. When you see what is happening, you may try to leave the bank and call the police. While the raw facts show that you were involved, your mindset shows that you wanted nothing to do with the crime. This can change the way that the judge and jurors perceive the facts.

Questioning the Procedures

Finally, a good defense strategy may involve showing that the procedures authorities used were illegal or unjust. This can sometimes result in the judge throwing out evidence, even evidence that could have resulted in a conviction.

For instance, to search a home, the police need to prove probable cause to obtain a warrant to carry out the search. If they search a home and find illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia with your fingerprints on them, the case might look open-and-shut. However, your defense lawyer may be able to show that police never had probable cause and thus conducted an illegal search, leading to the judge throwing out the evidence.

These rights are in place to protect everyone from police overreach, preventing them from simply searching homes and businesses at will. Instead, authorities must focus on those who are clearly and actively committing crimes, and they must respect your privacy.

Choosing the Best Criminal Defense Strategy

This is not something that you should do alone. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to examine the details of your case and devise the best strategy to put you in the best position for a successful outcome.