If you have been charged with a crime in Wisconsin, your lawyer will look for all possible defenses to see if there is a way to fight the charges. Depending on the facts, there are a wide variety of legal defenses available. Here are some of the possible ways that you can try to contest the case against you that the prosecution brings.
The Action That You Took Was Accidental
Many crimes require that you had the intent to commit the offense. For example, you can accidentally commit theft or domestic violence. You need to have actually tried to commit the act. The requirement of intent is not meant when whatever happened was accidental. For example, if you were just moving your body and you accidentally made contact with someone else, you could not have committed battery. Further, if you took something that you honestly thought was yours, you cannot commit theft. You can use this defense when you need to have acted intentionally, and something unintended occurred. Then, the prosecutor will have failed to prove a key element of the case, and you could be acquitted.
You Were Not There When the Incident Happened
You have likely heard of the word alibi used in connection with a criminal defense. Usually, this means that you could not have committed the crime simply because you were somewhere else at the time that the incident happened. You would need witness testimony and other documentary evidence to effectively back up your claims. You could also use things such as cell phone records and GPS tracking to show where you were at the time. In some cases, someone else committed the crime and not you. It could be a case of mistaken identity, or the prosecutor is just plain wrong. In any event, you need a lawyer to help you tell and prove your story to help you fight the charges.
Self-Defense or Defense of Others
There are times that you did exactly what the prosecutor claims, however, it was not for the reason that law enforcement thinks. In Wisconsin, you have the legal right to act in self-defense to prevent or terminate an “unlawful interference with his or her person by the other.” You have the same right to act to protect other people. Wisconsin actually has a relatively expansive self-defense law, as evidenced by recent high-profile trials in the state. Your belief of imminent danger must be reasonable. There is an even greater presumption of self-defense when the incident happened in your residence or business. In some cases, this right of self-defense even extends to protecting property. Even if your belief that action was necessary was unreasonable, it could still reduce the charges against you. This is known as imperfect self-defense.
Illegal Search or Seizure
Not only is what happened while the crime was allegedly being committed an issue, but the way in which law enforcement arrested you and gathered evidence can also be challenged. Under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, you have the legal right to be free from an unreasonable search or seizure. Law enforcement must have probable cause to execute a search or make an arrest. This is defined as a reasonable basis for believing that a crime has been committed. If the police choose to stop and briefly detain you, they must have a reasonable suspicion of a crime. Law enforcement cannot simply do what it wants. If you can establish that there has been an illegal search, you may be able to get evidence thrown out as the fruit of the poisonous tree. The same holds for charges that are based on an illegal arrest. Any lawyer will analyze every piece of evidence and how it was seized to see if there is a way that they can keep it out of the trial.
Charges Were Filed After the Statute of Limitations
Law enforcement does not have an indefinite period in which they can charge you with a crime. This would be unfair and unjust. Depending on the offense, they have a limited period of time to file criminal charges (although some very serious crimes such as murder and some sex crimes do not have statutes of limitations). If the prosecutor has waited too long to file charges, you can move to have them dismissed since that violates your legal rights. You would not even need to defend yourself on the merits of your case.
You Did Not Make an Agreement with Someone Else, or You Withdrew from the Crime
This defense applies to charges of conspiracy. To be convicted of conspiracy, you need to have an agreement with one or more people to commit a crime, and you must have made an overt act in furtherance of this conspiracy. This is a way to be charged even if you did not end up committing the crime to which you agreed. Law enforcement likes conspiracy charges because it allows them to up the pressure on you. Prosecutors must prove the agreement between you and others, and you can disprove that it existed. You could also defend the charges by disputing that you committed the act. Finally, even if you made an agreement and met the elements of a conspiracy charge, you can argue that you withdrew from the crime. This does not mean that you simply did nothing and abandoned the conspiracy. This needs an affirmative statement from you that you were no longer a part of the conspiracy.
Call Us Today to Speak with an Appleton Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a crime, you want an attorney who has a deep knowledge of every possible defense and how to successfully argue it to the jury. At Hogan Eickhoff, we are aggressive and experienced criminal defense lawyers who work for the best legal outcomes for our clients. Contact us today at (920) 450-9800 to schedule your free initial consultation, so you can learn whether there are defenses to the charges that you face.