Felony defense in Northern Virginia comes in many forms. There are many factors involved in deciding what the best strategy for defense is with your case. Each case is unique, and your felony defense lawyer will build a case that best suits your needs. These are the top criminal defense strategies for different types of felonies and how to best handle your defense.
A major source of incorrect accusations is incorrect witness identification. This may happen if a person has a similar appearance as the perpetrator or if the witness assumes someone committed a crime due to circumstances or the witness is covering for a crime that he/she committed.
Most offenses are deliberate, meaning the violator intentionally committed the crime. If your defense attorney can prove the act was accidental, there is a substantial defense against the charge.
Duress or Immediate Danger
If someone commits a crime because they believed they were at immediate risk of harm, their actions may not be considered a crime since they acted under duress.
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
The US Supreme Court ruled in 1970 that the government must meet strict “beyond reasonable doubt” legal standards when establishing the guilt of criminal charges. Under the law, the more serious the consequences, the higher the burden of proof generally should be. Since criminal convictions involve the potential loss of liberty in prison, the highest standard of proof applies.
This means that the judge/jury must have a moral certainty that the defendant is guilty, and the evidence offers no logical explanation or conclusion other than that the defendant committed the crime.
If your attorney can show that you were elsewhere when the crime was committed, then you cannot be guilty of the alleged crime.
This happens when a normally law-abiding citizen commits an offense due to intimidation, coercion, or law enforcement going too far to persuade someone to violate the law. This occurs often with undercover police operations and is often raised as a defense in court for prostitution, drug crimes, and child pornography.
Common forms of police misconduct include:
- Coercing witnesses and suspects
- Lying or embellishing facts in courtroom testimony or reports
- Using unnecessary force on cooperative subjects
- Improperly handling, planting, or doctoring evidence
If your attorney can prove police misconduct, your case may be dismissed, and you could potentially pursue a civil rights claim for damages.
Compelled or False Confessions
Police have been known to coerce false admissions of guilt from innocent suspects using mental strategies, physical threats, starvation, and sleep deprivation. Juveniles are particularly vulnerable to coercion. If your defense attorney can show evidence of coercion, the admission may be thrown out and excluded from evidence.
The law states that it is reasonable for an officer to stop an individual absent probably case to arrest, as long as he can point to specific articulable facts that justify probable cause for the stop, search, and arrest of the person.
If there is not probable cause, the defense can file a motion to suppress any improperly obtained evidence. If key evidence is suppressed, the case may be dismissed.
Individuals may be falsely accused of violations they did not commit. Child abuse, sex crime, and domestic violence accusations can be made without any physical evidence. Your attorney may be able to show evidence that the accusations were false or impugn the credibility of the accuser.
Mistake of Fact
If an alleged crime was made under a reasonable and honest mistake of fact, then the person is not guilty of most criminal offenses, due to lack of criminal intent. For example, if you accidentally took someone’s property believing that it was your own.
The legal defense of necessity excuses criminal conduct when it is done to avoid greater harm. Therefore, an accused can be acquitted of a charge if they believe that they or another person is in danger or about to be harmed and the only reasonable alternative is the commit the criminal act. Necessity must be provable with evidence.
Self Defense or Defense of Others
The castle doctrine applies to one’s home, place of business or other real property. An individual injuring another or using deadly force has no duty to retreat. Castle doctrine rights end when an individual is no longer on their real property.
Generally, the force used against an intruder must be reasonable and proportionate to the harm reasonably feared.
Since most criminal statutes require specific intent to commit crimes. If a defendant was involuntarily intoxicated, that is generally a complete defense to almost any crime. For example, if someone slipped a drug into a defendant’s drink causing them to become involuntarily intoxicated.
Plea of Insanity
You cannot be found guilty of a crime if you were legally insane when you committed it, in most cases. This goes back to wilful intent to commit a crime. The definition of legal insanity varies by state.
The constitution protects citizens from being prosecuted for the same crime twice and from facing multiple punishments for the same crime. Therefore, a suspect cannot be tried twice in the same court for the same crimes. If the defendant is acquitted of a crime, the prosecution cannot try for the same offense even if new evidence emerges.
Statute of Limitations
Prosecutors are forbidden from charging someone with a crime that was committed more than a specific number of years ago. These laws are meant to ensure that convictions only rely upon evidence that has not deteriorated with time. If the statute of limitation has run out, the accused is essentially free. The statute of limitations will vary by crime.
Felony Defense Attorney Northern Virginia
If you are facing a criminal conviction, it is important that you speak to a felony defense attorney in Northern Virginia. Having an experienced, knowledgeable attorney on your case will make all the difference. Contact King Campbell Poretz and Mitchell today to learn more about felony defense in Alexandria, Fairfax County, Leesburg and Loudoun County.