A criminal charge in Missouri doesn't necessarily equate to a conviction. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, various defenses may be applied to potentially mitigate charges or even result in an acquittal. This comprehensive guide explores possible defenses in a criminal case under Missouri law.
1. Presumption of Innocence
In all criminal proceedings in the United States, including Missouri, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof is on the prosecution to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime.
An alibi defense asserts that the defendant was somewhere else when the crime took place, making it impossible for them to have committed the crime. To successfully present an alibi, you must provide credible evidence such as witnesses, video surveillance, or other supporting documentation.
Missouri law recognizes the right to protect oneself from imminent harm. If you reasonably believed you were in immediate danger, you might be justified in using force—even deadly force in certain circumstances—against the aggressor.
4. Insanity Defense
Though rarely used and difficult to prove, the insanity defense asserts that the defendant was incapable of understanding the nature of their actions due to a mental disorder. In Missouri, the defendant must meet the M'Naghten Rule, which means they didn't understand the nature of their act, or they didn't know it was wrong.
Duress is a defense that asserts the defendant committed the crime because they were forced or threatened by someone else. To succeed with this defense, the threat usually must be of serious bodily harm or death.
Entrapment occurs when law enforcement officers induce a person to commit a crime that they would not have otherwise committed. It's a complex defense that often relies on the specifics of the interaction with law enforcement.
7. Constitutional Violations
Violations of constitutional rights can also serve as a defense. For instance, if evidence was obtained illegally (in violation of the Fourth Amendment), or if a confession was obtained without a Miranda warning, such evidence may be excluded from the trial.
While this guide provides an overview of possible defenses in a criminal case, every case is unique. A skilled attorney can evaluate the specific details of your situation to craft the most effective defense strategy. If you're facing a criminal charge in Missouri, remember that you have rights, and a thorough understanding of these potential defenses is integral to safeguarding them.