The prosecutor has the legal obligation to prove each element of the alleged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if they believe they have the evidence, it does not automatically mean that you will be convicted. For each charged offense, there may be an effective legal defense that keeps the prosecutor from being able to prove the crime. Depending on your defense, you may have your own obligation to prove each individual element. Some of these defenses amount to saying, “yes, I did what I was accused of, but there is a valid legal reason for it.” Here are some defenses that are used in Wisconsin criminal cases.
This is perhaps the most obvious defense in a criminal case. There is no specific defense involved here other than the fact that the prosecutor cannot prove their case against you. As the defense, you can present evidence of your own that casts doubt on the prosecution’s case, including an alibi. If the prosecutor does not prove their case, you should be found not guilty by the judge or jury.
Self-Defense or Defense of Others
You may be entitled to use force under certain circumstances. If someone reasonably believed that there was an “unlawful interference with his or her person by such other person,” they can use physical force to prevent or terminate the interference. The force that you used must be reasonable in comparison with the threat that you faced. In addition, a court would consider whether you had the ability to retreat if you faced the threat of deadly force or death.
You also have the right to defend a third party if that person themselves would have had the right to act in self-defense. You would need to prove the elements of self-defense in court. Finally, you may also use some degree of force in defense of your own property.
Lack of Intent
There are some crimes that require you to have a specific intent to commit them. For example, you cannot unintentionally commit murder or robbery. The prosecution must prove that you aimed to commit the actual crime.
If you have been charged with theft, you may be able to negate the element of intent by arguing that you legitimately thought that the other person lent or gave you the property. Proving intent is a crucial part of many criminal charges that a prosecutor may not be able to meet.
Consent is a defense that is related to a lack of intent that is available in some criminal cases. You cannot have an intent to commit a crime if the alleged victim allowed and consented to the conduct in question. For example, if you have been charged with theft, you could not be convicted if the other person gave you the property. Consent is also a defense in many sex crimes. For example, one could not be convicted of rape when the other party agreed to voluntarily have sex with the defendant. However, there must be little doubt that the alleged victim consented to the act. Silence would not necessarily be considered consent.
In some cases, law enforcement may be running a sting operation. Stings commonly occur in drug and child pornography cases. Law enforcement sends undercover agents to test whether certain people will engage in crimes. There is a line that law enforcement cannot cross in these sting operations. They cannot persuade or induce a suspect to commit a crime, or else they may be considered to have entrapped the suspect.
Conspiracy is one of the prosecutor’s favorite charges. They can charge you with conspiracy even if you were not successful in committing the crime. The mere fact that you acted with others and took an overt step towards committing the crime is a crime in itself.
Once you are a part of a conspiracy, you must take an active and affirmative step to withdraw from it. Silence or inactivity is not enough to be considered a withdrawal. They must either tell the co-conspirators that they are no longer a part of the conspiracy or take acts that are inconsistent with the aims of the conspiracy. Of course, telling law enforcement of the conspiracy could be considered withdrawal.
Violation of Your Constitutional Rights
You have certain rights as a criminal defendant under the United States and Wisconsin Constitutions. For example, police must have probable cause to conduct a search and seize evidence, or else they may rely on a valid exception to the requirement. Another Constitutional right is the ability to confront and cross-examine witnesses who are testifying against you.
Not all violations of your rights will result in the charges being dismissed. The case may be thrown out if police lacked probable cause to arrest you in the first place. The more common remedy for a violation of your rights is that the particular piece of evidence that is being used may be suppressed. For example, if police obtained a confession after violating your Miranda rights, you may still be tried, but the jury would not hear that you had confessed to the crime.
Your criminal defense attorney will speak with you and investigate your case to help determine whether you have any defenses to the charges that you could assert at trial. They will aggressively stand up for your legal rights if they have been violated and present your own case if you choose to fight the charges against you. If you seek to negotiate a plea bargain, your attorney will work to get you the best possible deal.
Contact an Appleton Criminal Defense Attorney Today
The attorneys at Hogan Eickhoff are the legal heavy hitters that you need in your corner when you are facing potential legal consequences. We pursue every possible and plausible defense on behalf of our clients as we seek the best possible legal outcome for you. If you are in the criminal justice system, you need to speak with an attorney immediately. Otherwise, your legal rights could be at risk. You can contact us online or call us today at (920) 450-9800 to schedule your free consultation.