Criminal Defense Law
Criminal defense law employs both defensive and offensive tactics. A defendant will often contest the accuracy of the allegations made against him or her in a criminal indictment, which is a factual denial. This is a defensive action. An offensive action would be the use of an affirmative defense. An affirmative defense (such as duress or self-defense) argues that even if the allegations against the defendant are true, the defendant is entitled to prevail for some other reason, often because it places the actions of the accused beyond the individual’s volition or control.
To assert an affirmative defense, the defense attorney must show that there are additional facts which will be legally sufficient to excuse his/her client. These facts must be in addition to the ones claimed in the indictment or the information provided in the charges. There are very specific rules that must be followed in a criminal proceeding. For example, in order to use an affirmative defense, the defendant must raise it when he first responds to the charges or he will be prohibited from using this defense later.
Another type of affirmative defense is a justification defense, which is the claim that the actions of the accused demonstrated the morally right thing under unusual circumstances and was therefore justified. Because of this, he isn’t to blame, did not commit a crime, and therefore should not be punished. In other words, a defendant can lawfully commit an intentional harm in order to avoid a more serious harm.
Other aspects of criminal defense include the Privilege against Self-Incrimination and Justification. The U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment protects a criminal defendant from being compelled to testify against himself. This means he cannot be required to testify under oath at trial. For more information about criminal law, please visit our Criminal and Penal Law Guide
To consult State Legislation regarding criminal defense laws and regulations please see the Criminal Code by State page.
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Criminal Defense Law - US
- American Bar Association - Criminal Justice Section
Founded in 1920, the Criminal Justice Section of the American Bar Association has over 20,000 members including prosecutors, private defense counsel, appellate and trial judges, law professors, correctional and law enforcement personnel, law students, public defenders, and other criminal justice professionals. With its diverse, multi-disciplinary membership, the Criminal Justice Section is uniquely situated to address the pressing issues facing today's criminal justice system.
- Bill of Rights - Fifth Amendment
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
- Criminal Procedure - Overview
Criminal procedure deals with the set of rules governing the series of proceedings through which the government enforces substantive criminal law. Municipalities, states, and the federal government each have their own criminal codes, defining types of conduct that constitute crimes. Title 18 of the U.S. Code outlines all federal crimes. Typically, federal crimes deal with activities that either extend beyond state boundaries or directly impact federal interests.
- Effective Death Penalty Appeals Act
To amend title 28, United States Code, to clarify the availability of Federal habeas corpus relief for a person who is sentenced to death though actually innocent.
- Miranda Warning
A Miranda warning is a warning given by police in the United States to criminal suspects in police custody, or in a custodial situation, before they are interrogated. A custodial situation is one in which the suspect's freedom of movement is restrained (judged by the "free to leave" test), even if he is not under arrest. An elicited incriminating statement by a suspect will not constitute admissible evidence unless the suspect was informed of his/her "Miranda rights" and made a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary waiver of those rights. However, a 2004 Supreme Court ruling upheld state "stop-and-identify" laws, allowing police in those jurisdictions to require biographical information such as name, date of birth, and address, without arresting suspects or providing them Miranda warnings.
- Sixth Amendment - Rights of Accused in Criminal Prosecutions
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
Criminal Defense Law - Europe
- Criminal Defence Service Act 2006 - UK
An Act to make provision about representation funded as part of the Criminal Defence Service.
- Criminal Justice - EU
The progressive elimination of border control within the EU has considerably facilitated the free movement of European citizens, but has also make it easier for criminals to operate transnationally, especially since the scope of the law enforcement authorities and criminal justice system within the European Union (EU) has for a long time been largely limited to the boundaries of their respective States. In order to face the challenge of international crime, the EU is progressing toward a single area of justice.
- European Criminal Defense - Counsel for the Defense in Transnational European Criminal Proceedings
Research projects in the Department of Criminal Law are pursued in accordance with the department's research program. A condensed version1 of the research program is available online. The full version of the research program is also available in German (courtesy of the Walter de Gruyter publishing group).
Criminal Defense Law - International
- International Criminal Defence Attorneys Association (ICDAA)
The International Criminal Defence Attorneys Association (ICDAA) is an international non-governmental organization (INGO) dedicated to strengthening fair trial rights and an independent legal profession in the emerging international criminal justice system.
INTERPOL is the world’s largest international police organization, with 188 member countries. Created in 1923, it facilitates cross-border police co-operation, and supports and assists all organizations, authorities and services whose mission is to prevent or combat international crime.
- The International Criminal Court (ICC)
The International Criminal Court (ICC), governed by the Rome Statute, is the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.
Organizations Related to Criminal Defense Law
- American Trial Lawyers Association
It is the mission of The American Trial Lawyers Association to provide news, information, and education to attorneys who practice or have an interest in trial work, including civil plaintiff and criminal defense law. The American Trial Lawyers Association is a professional and business organization designed to provide high quality, relevant, and innovative legal programs which are essential in dealing with current issues facing the trial lawyer.
- Center for Criminal Justice Advocacy (CCJA)
The Center for Criminal Justice Advocacy was formed as a free, nonpartisan, grassroots training resource to assist new lawyers in becoming competent criminal trial practitioners. Our public service mission is to provide newly licensed sole practitioners and prosecutors, who toil daily in criminal courtrooms across our country, with a body of materials that support a structured analytical approach to planning, preparing, and conducting a persuasive and convincing criminal trial. Our interest is in promoting and preserving equal justice for all.
- Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC)
The Death Penalty Information Center is a non-profit organization serving the media and the public with analysis and information on issues concerning capital punishment. The Center was founded in 1990 and prepares in-depth reports, issues press releases, conducts briefings for journalists, and serves as a resource to those working on this issue. The Center is widely quoted and consulted by all those concerned with the death penalty.
- Equal Justice Initiative
The Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama is a private, nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system.
- Institute for Criminal Justice Ethics
The Institute for Criminal Justice Ethics, the only nonprofit, university-based center of its kind in the United States, was established to foster greater concern for ethical issues among practitioners and scholars in the criminal justice field. Through its diverse programs it serves both as a national clearinghouse for information and as a stimulus to research and publication. It seeks to encourage increased sensitivity to the demands of ethical behavior among those who administer and enforce our system of criminal justice, a more focused treatment of moral issues in the education of criminal justice professionals, and a new dialogue among scholars and practitioners on specific topics in criminal justice ethics.
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) is the preeminent organization in the United States advancing the mission of the nation's criminal defense lawyers to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or other misconduct. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's more than 12,800 direct members -- and 94 state, local, and international affiliate organizations with another 35,000 members -- include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, active U.S. military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness within America's criminal justice system.
- Sentencing Project
The Sentencing Project is a national organization working for a fair and effective criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing law and practice, and alternatives to incarceration.
Publications Related to Criminal Defense Law
- Capital Defense Weekly
Started in the summer of 1997, Capital Defense Weekly / A Capital Defender’s Toolbox, is arguably the oldest “blawg” still in operation, predating even the first usage of the term “web log”, “blog” and “blawg”. Over the years CDW, as it is often known, has been used as an example of the future of law reviews,1 a way to keep current capital defense theories,2 and a showcase of how a website can impact an area of the law.
- Criminal Defense Law News
News on Criminal Defense Law continually updated from thousands of sources around the net.
- The Criminal Justice System Blog
Presents articles, publications, opinions and the latest news in criminal defense law. Helping people connect with the area of criminal defense.
Articles on HG.org Related to Criminal Defense Law
- Increasing Use of DNA Evidence Both Convicts and Exonerates in TexasOne of the more recent technological advancements in the criminal justice world is DNA analysis. More and more frequently, especially in Texas, DNA evidence gathered from a crime scene is used to identify someone who may have been present. It is also used to exclude someone from consideration as a suspect or to save him or her from a wrongful conviction.
- Investigators Deploy Various Tools in Texas Internet Solicitation CasesBecoming the subject of an Internet investigation related to the online solicitation of a minor is life altering. Not only are there criminal penalties, but also if convicted sex offender registration rules apply and jobs and housing can be hard to come by with required background checks.
- Michigan's MIP Law Offers Deferred ProsecutionThe Michigan MIP law allows Courts to dismiss the case if the minor successfully completes a probationary period. Deferred prosecution protects the underage drinker from jail and a permanent criminal record. On the other hand, the repeat offender faces potential jail time, costly probation conditions and a mandatory license suspension.
- The Minnesota Commercial Driver and DWIMinnesota DWI Laws can be very difficult for drivers that choose to drive under the influence of alcohol. But, they can be especially harsh for those individuals that possess a commercial driver's license.
- Discovering Evidence in Criminal CasesEvery criminal defense in Michigan rests on the strength of the Prosecutor's evidence. Discovery is essential to a successful criminal defense strategy. Discovery is the stage where your Defense Attorney submits a written demand to inspect the evidence, and get copies of all reports. If the Prosecutor refuses to comply with the Discovery Demand, the Court may issue and Order Compelling Discovery, which directs the Prosecutor to release the evidence.
- Law against Internet Solicitation in FloridaInternet solicitation of children and teens has been a persistent problem following the immense popularity of the Internet as a means of information and communication. The state of Florida has put in place adequate laws to deal with this problem firmly and reduce the risk of Internet surfers becoming victims of such online solicitation.
- Drug Convictions Disqualify Student Financial Aid ApplicantsPeople with a one drug possession conviction lose Student Financial Aid eligibility for one year from conviction date. People with two drug possession convictions or one drug sales/delivery conviction lose eligibility for two years. Those with three drug possession convictions or two drug sales convictions are ineligible indefinitely.
- What Is Unlawful Search and Seizure?In the United States, the US Constitution's 4th Amendment provides protection for US citizens from unreasonable search and seizure.
- Unlawful Search and SeizureIn any situation, and for any alleged crime, police and other government officials have guidelines and limitations on their power to gather evidence against a suspect.
- Study Reveals Texting and Driving Just as Risky as Drunk DrivingMost people are very aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, but texting while driving is becoming just as serious a threat on our public roadways.
- All Criminal Law Articles
Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Criminal Law including: arson, assault, battery, bribery, burglary, child abuse, child pornography, computer crime, controlled substances, credit card fraud, criminal defense, criminal law, drugs and narcotics, DUI, DWI, embezzlement, fraud, expungements, felonies, homicide, identity theft, manslaughter, money laundering, murder, perjury, prostitution, rape, RICO, robbery, sex crimes, shoplifting, theft, weapons, white collar crime and wire fraud.