It can feel scary and overwhelming to get a criminal charge. Defendants often dread the penalties and how it may affect their permanent record. Going to court should never be something that you face alone. A New Jersey attorney like Leon Matchin helps walk his clients through the entire process throughout the trial. Leon has years of experience creating defenses that help get charges downgraded or dropped. A solid defense can be based on many different factors. However, the most important element is that the defendant is open and honest about the crime to the attorney. This will help the attorney gather evidence and begin to make their case. Read on to learn about some common defenses attorneys use to help their clients.
The insanity defense can be used when a client admits to the crime, but the reason they committed it is due to a psychiatric issue. Perhaps the most famous use of this defense was in the United States v. Hinckley case. Hinckley attempted to assassinate the president, Ronald Reagan. Hinckley was found not guilty of the crime due to the insanity defense. He remained institutionalized under psychiatric care until 2016. In order to use this defense, it must be proven that the defendant couldn’t understand the difference between right and wrong at the time of the act. This must be due to a mental disorder such as a psychotic or mood disorder.
This is a common defense seen in the movies. However, in actuality, it is not used much in the court of law. According to the Psychiatric Times, the defense is used in less than 1% of criminal proceedings. Although it is rarely used, it is a good option for attorneys to have if they feel the client’s mental health status caused them to commit the crime. When speaking with your attorney, be very open and clear about your medical history. Define any mental illness diagnosis and provide any supporting paperwork from doctors.
A double jeopardy defense is used to prevent the defendant from getting tried for the same charge, following acquittal or conviction. This is directly related to the 5th Amendment that states a person will not be tried for the same crime twice. This also protects defendants from receiving multiple punishments for the same offense.
For example, in 2013, a Texas man was charged with a misdemeanor assault against his girlfriend. Little did the prosecutors know, but she had passed away. Since he was already charged with assaulting her, the double jeopardy law protected him from also being charged with murder. While this is a very extreme case, this defense can be used in the favor of many clients. Your New Jersey attorney can help you understand if you qualify for the double jeopardy offense.
De Minimus Infractions Defense
A De Minimus Infractions defense can be used when the crime is deemed too trivial to go to trial. A simple example would be someone taking a chocolate bar at a store thinking it was a free sample when it actually wasn’t. This would be considered a simple, honest mistake. Therefore, this defense can be used so that there is no unnecessary trial.
This defense is frequently used to convince a judge that the prosecutor’s charge is trivial and unreasonable. Domestic cases apply to this defense as well. For example, getting in a verbal fight with a significant other is something that happens occasionally. This can receive a De Minimus infraction defense instead of the defendant getting charged with an assault.
Coercion and Duress
This defense can be used if the defendant was forced or threatened in order to commit the crime. For example, if someone is told that they will be killed if they do not vandalize the side of a building, this could fall under the coercion and duress defense. This defense is not valid if the defendant has been reckless and put themselves in a bad position. For example, if you decide to join a gang and then commit a crime because the other gang members coerce you into doing it, this does not count.
Another defense that can be used is that of self-defense. This is especially common in assault cases. The defendant may have committed assault because they felt their own safety was at risk and that they needed to defend themselves. This can happen in situations of domestic violence. Defendants should be very honest with their attorney about whether or not they are acting in self-defense. This can greatly change the outcome of the case.
As you can see, there are a variety of different defense options that a New Jersey attorney can draw from. If the attorney can successfully prove that you fall under one of these defenses, you have a good chance of getting your charges dismissed or downgraded. The key is to be completely honest and open with your attorney. Share as many details surrounding the charge as you can. Also, bring in any supporting paperwork. You never know what could trigger an idea in your attorney’s mind about how they can best defend you in court.
Leon Matchin has years of experience defending clients in court as a New Jersey attorney. He has successfully defended numerous clients, helping them to get their charges dropped or downgraded. If you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge, it is time to get help. For more information about potential defenses and how an attorney can help, call Leon Matchin today at 732-887-2479, or contact him via email at [email protected].