You’re probably thinking, “What kind of strategy can a criminal defendant actually have? Either you’re guilty or you’re not, right?”
Not exactly. Under the American legal system, you’re innocent until proven guilty — which places a substantial burden on the prosecution. It’s always wise to remember that cases sometimes aren’t so much about what happened as they may be about “what the prosecution can prove.”
- Denying your involvement entirely: This includes cases when an eyewitness misidentifies you or you have a ready alibi that proves you couldn’t be guilty.
- Admitting the action, but denying that it was criminal in nature: One example might include admitting that you battered someone or even killed them, but you claim it was a necessary act of self-defense, although this may also be an important tactic for financial crimes.
- Admitting the actions but explaining the mitigating circumstances: This includes cases like those where someone accidentally starts a fire while intoxicated and ends up charged with arson.
- Admitting to part of the charges but denying the rest: For example, this tactic might be used if you’re caught with drugs and you’re willing to admit that they were yours but deny that you intended to sell them to others.
- Refusing to admit or deny anything: This is sometimes appropriate if the prosecution’s case is particularly weak or built on questionable evidence.
Exactly which tactic is best to take for your defense is something that you’ll discuss with your attorney early on in your case — although defense strategies can change as more information becomes available.