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Understanding the criminal defense strategies available to you

Being accused of a crime is a difficult predicament to be in. No matter the severity of the crime or if it is the first criminal allegation an individual is facing, it is paramount to understand the penalties and consequences one could face if convicted. Thus, defendants in Iowa and elsewhere should take the time to understand his or her situation, what rights are afforded to them and what options are available.

There are a variety of criminal defense strategies available to criminal defendants; however, not all meet the needs and best interests of the accused. Therefore, breaking down the process into two categories can help a defendant better assess his or her situation. The first is to assert that you did not do the crime that you are being accused of. The second is to assert that you did the act but should not be held responsible for it.

There are three things to keep in mind when assert a defense that you did not commit the crime you are being accuse of. First, a defendant is innocent until they are proven guilty. Because evidence must be collected to prove that a defendant is guilty, it is possible to plead the fifth. This allows the defendant to remain silent, not offering a shred of evidence.

Next, the prosecution needs to prove that a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If that cannot be proven with the evidence provided, then a defendant cannot be convicted. Lastly, a defendant could show proof of an alibi. This could help demonstrate that they couldn't have done the crime they are being accused of.

Even if a defendant admits to the act, he or she could prove that they should not be held responsible for the act. This is common accomplished through a self-defense claim or insanity defense claim. A defendant could also assert that they were under the influence, using that as a defense. Lastly, the accused could use an entrapment defense, which relied on the theory that the government shouldn't be allowed to coerce you into committing a crime then convict you for doing it.

It can be difficult to initiate a criminal defense action and even navigate the criminal process. Thus, it is important to understand what options are available so you can timely assert a defense. This could result in reduced and even dropped charges, helping a defendant avoid harsh penalties.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Defending Yourself Against a Criminal Charge," accessed March 11, 2017

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J. Dean Keegan and Thomas D. Farnsworth, Attorneys at Law
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Cedar Rapids Criminal Law Office

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