Without laws there would be chaos. But as our world is not perfect, neither are our laws. Sometimes a person is accused for breaking the law, but that person is not as guilty as he seems to be – he simply didn’t have a choice. Here’s which defenses you can use if you’re charged under those circumstances.
Defense of Necessity
The defendant can raise this defense if he alleges that his acts were done under “exceptional circumstances”. This means that the defendant had no other choice, but to act against the law. There is a general set of criteria by which courts consider would that defense be viable. Some of them include the claim that the act was committed to avoid an unlawful act of greater number of casualties or damage, or if the act was committed in a situation where no legal solution was possible.
Defense of Duress
This defense is used when the defendant claims that the act committed under compulsion by another person, where the accused was threatened with physical punishment for noncompliance. Threats could have been made to both the accused or someone the accused is close with, such as family members or friends. The defense is mostly used if the threats wore much greater casualties than the committed unlawful act. For an example, someone threatened that he’ll kill one of your friends if you don’t rob a jewelry store.
Used mostly in cases of physical assault or murder. The defendant alleges that he committed the unlawful act to defend himself. If the case is about homicide, the authorities must investigate if the aggressor would have killed the defendant if the defendant didn’t use force. However, in most courts, the act of self defense needs to be nothing more than warding off the aggressor.
“It is important to have an attorney on your side who understands the laws, the state prosecution, and the county judges. Self defense is often a futile effort and seeking the aid of a public defender will often result in a much longer sentence and harsher charges” – Dattan Law Firm Anchorage Criminal Defense Lawyer
Defense of Automatism
It’s used when defendant claims that he, or she, lacked control over his, or her, acts, and cannot be responsible for his actions because of that. That means that the accused was didn’t have control over his actions, as if the accused was deluded, provoked, incapacitated or severely mentally disabled. There are differences between insane and non-insane automatism. The authorities recognize which automatism is in question, and gives the appropriate sentence – accused is referred to a psychiatric in the case of insane automatism, while the person charged for unlawful act while being diagnosed with a non-insane automatism is given a milder sentence than if it would be if the accused was not diagnosed with a non-insane automatism.