Compassionate, Results-Driven Representation

An overview of common affirmative defenses

On Behalf of | Feb 5, 2020 | Criminal Defense

When a defendant in an Illinois criminal case uses an affirmative defense, he or she is admitting to committing the crime in question. However, the defendant is using it in an effort to justify his or her actions. If the strategy is successful, it could be possible for that person to be acquitted of a charge. Individuals might assert that they took action to defend themselves or others from imminent danger.

Individuals are generally allowed to take action to defend themselves and others if there is no other way to diffuse a situation. Furthermore, any force used by a defendant must be reasonable to guard against the threat another person posed to his or her safety. Those who are charged with crimes may claim that they lacked the mental capacity needed to understand or appreciate their actions. If a person is found guilty by reason of insanity, that individual will likely spend time in a mental hospital or other mental health facility.

Necessity may also be an effective affirmative defense used to justify committing an illegal act. Defendants who use this type of defense are claiming that what they did was necessary to prevent a more harmful act from occurring. An individual must show that he or she was not the cause of the danger that he or she faced and that the illegal activity ceased when the danger went away.

Anyone who has been charged with a crime could face jail time, a fine or other negative consequences. A criminal law attorney may be able to claim that a defendant was acting in self-defense or to prevent greater harm when committing an illegal act. This might be enough to help a person obtain a favorable plea deal or be acquitted by a jury after a trial.