By Christopher R Rice
1.) Criminal Defenses: It does not matter if you are innocent or guilty, to convict you, the State will spare no expense. Here are some defenses, use everything you can to get free.
A.) Didn’t Do It
Go with you did not commit the alleged crime in question. Wasn’t me.
B.) The Presumption of Innocence
All people accused of crimes are presumed to be guilty, whether that comes by way of trial or plea. This presumption means that the defendant must convince the jury of his/her innocence, rather than the prosecution having to prove guilt. Juries typically believe LE over alleged criminals.
C.) Reasonable Doubt
The prosecutor and public defenders must convince the defendant that going to trial would be futile due to the evidence gathered, planted or manufactured against him/her and that accepting a plea bargain is in their best interest. This way the state avoids an expensive trial and the DA keeps his/her prosecution stats.
D.) The Alibi
An alibi defense consists of evidence that the defendant was somewhere other than the scene of the crime at the time of the crime. Wasn’t me.
E.) The Defendant Did It, But…
Sometimes an acquittal is the result even if the prosecutor showed that that the defendant did, without a doubt, commit the alleged act.
The defendant admits that he or she did in fact use violence, but claims that it was justified by the other person’s threatening or violent actions. The core issues in self-defense cases are:
Who was the aggressor?
Was the defendant’s belief that self-defense was necessary a reasonable one?
If so, was the amount force the defendant used also reasonable?
Someone doesn’t necessarily have to wait to the point of actually being struck in order to act in self-defense. Whatever the circumstances are, any force that the would-be defendant uses has to be reasonable under the circumstances.
G.) The Insanity Defense
The insanity defense prevents some people who can’t function fully from being criminally punished.
H.) Under the Influence
Defendants who commit crimes under the influence of drugs or alcohol sometimes argue that their mental functioning was so impaired that they cannot be held accountable for their actions. Generally, however, voluntary intoxication does not excuse criminal conduct.
Some states have an exception to this general rule: If the defendant is accused of committing a crime that requires “specific intent,” he can argue that he was too drunk or high to have formed that intent.
Entrapment occurs when the government induces a person to commit a crime that he wouldn’t have otherwise commit.
2.) Expert Witnesses
Forensic psychologists and psychiatrists are ethically bound to be impartial when performing evaluations or providing expert opinions in court. But new research suggests that courtroom experts’ evaluations may be influenced by whether their paycheck comes from the defense or the prosecution. The research is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
“We were surprised by how easy it was to find this ‘allegiance effect,’” says psychological scientist Daniel Murrie of the University of Virginia. “The justice system relies often on expert witnesses, and most expert witnesses believe they perform their job objectively — these findings suggest this may not be the case.”
The abstract for this article can be found online.
Co-authors on this research include Lucy Guarnera from the University of Virginia and Katrina Rufino from Sam Houston State University.
3.) Beat your court case:
A.) Always plead ‘not guilty’. Never waive your rights to a fair and speedy trial unless you are facing murder charges.
B.) If the evidence against you holds up, you lose. But – if you can prove that the evidence is without foundation – then you win.
C.) If the prosecution has two expert witnesses there is nothing keeping you from hiring four expert witnesses to testify on your behalf. Juries are easily swayed by so called “experts”.
D.) Challenge a traffic stop. In order to stop a driver, an officer must have a “reasonable and articulate basis” to believe that a traffic or other law has been, or is being, violated. In other words, you need to have violated a law of the road in order for the police officer to pull you over. If the traffic stop is found to be unreasonable, any evidence obtained as a result of the stop will have to be ruled inadmissible in Court. Without any evidence that you committed a crime, the prosecutor will likely drop the charge against you.
For example, if an officer said that a driver was weaving, that would not be considered a reasonable excuse to stop the driver, because weaving within your own lane is not a violation of any law. Not only must the officer provide a reason for the stop that a Court will find reasonable, but he or she must also be able to articulate that reason
For example, an officer who simply has a “funny feeling” about a driver, may not stop the driver without having a reason for the funny feeling which can be articulated, or described in appropriate detail
Heien v. North Carolina, No. 13-604 (SCOTUS, 2014)- The
officer stopped a vehicle for a brake light out. He became suspicious
and asked for consent to search. He found trafficking weight of cocaine.
Heien was arrested and convicted. Heien appealed to the State Supreme
Court. The Court tossed the conviction because state law only requires
one functioning brake light which Heien’s vehicle had.
E.) Challenge the officer’s suspicion that you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In order to establish reasonable suspicion that you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the officer will need to say that he or she smelled alcohol, that your speech was slurred, and/or your eyes appeared to be bloodshot. If you can establish that a medical condition, medication, allergies, or mouthwash caused the alcohol smell, slurred speech, or bloodshot eyes, you may be able to have any field sobriety, breathalyzer, or blood test results ruled inadmissible in Court.
Once these test results are ruled inadmissible, it may be very difficult for the prosecution to prove that your blood alcohol content (“BAC”) was over the legal limit, and the judge or jury may find you not guilty
F.) Challenge everything. US v. Nora, No. 12-50485 (9th Cir 2014)-Officers saw Nora standing on the sidewalk by his house. As they approached him he had moved to his porch. The officers saw a handgun in his hand. He entered his house and shut the door. The officers called for backup. Over twenty officers surrounded his house and a helicopter watched from above. The officers ordered him out of the house at gunpoint. They arrested him for the misdemeanor offense of carrying a firearm in public. The officers did not know Nora or that he had a felony conviction at the time of arrest. They searched him and found drugs. They questioned him. He admitted to more drugs being in the house. The officers got a warrant and searched his house. They found distribution quantity of cocaine, methamphetamine, and numerous firearms in the house. The Court held that Nora was unlawfully arrested out of his house in violation of Payton v. New York. It was a minor offense and there were no exigent circumstances justifying the warrantless arrest from his home. The drugs found on him and his statement were excluded. The officers did not name specifically in the search warrant that they were looking for the pistol they saw Nora with. The search warrant only mentioned any firearm. The Court invalidated the entire search warrant
US v. Aquino, 11-1372 (8th Cir. 2012)- Aquino
was contacted on a bus by police. The officer asked him for consent to
search his person. Aquino refused. The officer asked him to pull his
clothes tight to his body. Aquino obeyed the officer. The officer saw a
bulge under Aquino’s pants by the calf. The officer immediately placed
Aquino in handcuffs and pulled his lower pant leg up to reveal a bag of
methamphetamine taped to the leg. The Court held that seeing the bulge
in and of itself does not establish probable cause to conduct a search
beyond a pat search of the outer clothing, which the officer did not do.
The evidence was excluded.
G.) Entrapment is the next defense. Police must clearly understand what Entrapment is, because it is easy to cross the line and blow a case. Entrapment is, “When the criminal design originates, not with the accused, but is conceived in the mind of the government officers, and the accused is by persuasion, deceitful representation, or inducement lured into the commission of a criminal act, the government is estopped by sound public policy from prosecution therefor.” Sorrells v. U.S., 287 U.S. 435 (1932)
H.) LEARN THE LAWs (in your state) and BEAT YOUR CASE
A California “Pitchess motion”—described in Evidence Code 1043 and 1045 EC— is a request for information contained in a law enforcement officer’s personnel file.
California criminal defense lawyers typically file a Pitchess motion as part of the pretrial process when they believe that their client has been the victim of some form of police misconduct.
Types of law enforcement officer misconduct that could support a Pitchess motion include:
Use of excessive force,
Racial profiling ,
Coercing confessions, and/or
Dishonesty in police reports. If you believe that the officers involved in your arrest engaged in misconduct—and that this misconduct had a material impact on the charges against you—then a Pitchess motion can help turn up proof that have a history of that sort of behavior.
Depending on what the officer personnel records reveal, a successful Pitchess motion could persuade the prosecution to reduce—or even dismiss—one or more of your charges.
And even when the prosecutor doesn’t choose to do so, the information could help you pursue
a Penal Code 995 PC motion to set aside the information, or
a Penal Code 1538.5 PC motion to suppress evidence.
4.) Advice for Defendants Preparing for Criminal Trial
Don’t Let Your Body Language Mislead the Jurors
During jury trials, jurors carefully study all the participants—the lawyers, the client, the witnesses and the judge. This is because of the very nature of the jury trial itself. Jurors are restricted to the jury box and aren’t able to speak to one another in the courtroom. This gives them a lot of time for keen observation of everyone’s habits and mannerisms. This body language and behavior gets interpreted in a variety of ways, but some of them can pose a problem for defendants.
…look down/avoid eye contact with the witnesses and jur
…look ashamed or embarrasse
…try to stare down the witness or intimidate them
…look at the witness and jury like you would anyone else under normal circumstances
A defendant with a clean, neat appearance shows respect for the court, and an understanding of the seriousness of the defendant’s circumstances. But there are a few things to avoid…
…overdress for the occasion. if you don’t normally get dressed up, don’t dress up for trial
Jurors are good at detecting phoniness and manipulation, and you will lose credibility with the court
…come into the court room unclean, wrinkled or otherwise sloppy.
…dress as you ordinarily do. If you’re a businessperson who is often dressed up, then a suit would be appropriate. If you ordinarily dress more casually, then this is the way to dress in court.
Avoid Common Mistakes
There are a number of mistakes individuals accused of a crime make as their trial approaches. Some helpful tips can help you avoid these pitfalls.
… discuss the case with non-lawyers. Attorneys who specialize in criminal law understand the complex legal system, and what may seem like common sense to a person not familiar with the law is not necessarily helpful from a legal perspective. While your friends, family and neighbors may be very concerned for you and want to help you in any way they can, the best thing you can do for yourself is to restrict your discussion of the case to your own legal team
…try to do your own research. Again, the court system has its own complex language, and unless you’re well-versed in it, you may actually do more harm than good by trying to tackle your own research.…compare your case with other, similar cases. Each case is entirely unique, and one case generally has nothing to do with another case, no matter how similar they initially may seem.
…make sure your lawyer explains to you the strategy, and why he or she may be asking certain questions and not others
…tell your lawyer what you would like to see him or her doing regarding your case, and share any ideas you might have. Sometimes clients have ideas that lawyers might not think of because the client is so close to the circumstances that led to the charges. A collaborative experience with your lawyer will serve you best.
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critics complain that the criminal justice system is heavy-handed and
unfair to minorities. We hear a great deal about capital punishment,
excessively punitive drug laws, supposed misuse of eyewitness evidence,
troublingly high levels of black male incarceration, and so forth.
So to assert that black Americans suffer from too little application of the law, not too much, seems at odds with common perception. But the perceived harshness of American criminal justice and its fundamental weakness are in reality two sides of a coin, the former a kind of poor compensation for the latter. Like the schoolyard bully, our criminal justice system harasses people on small pretexts but is exposed as a coward before murder. It hauls masses of black men through its machinery but fails to protect them from bodily injury and death. It is at once oppressive and inadequate.”
― Jill Leovy
pretended I had urgent business at the prosecutor’s table which, in one
of The System’s obvious tells, was always millimeters from the jury
― Sergio De La Pava, A Naked Singularity