Chapter 11: Defenses - Capital High School

UNIT 2: Criminal Law & Juvenile Justice
Chapter 11
For a conviction to occur in a criminal case,
two requirements must be met
 The prosecutor must establish beyond a
reasonable doubt that the defendant committed
the act in question
 and that the defendant committed the act with
the required intent
The defendant does not have to present a
 He or she can simply force the government
(the prosecutor) to prove its case
 However, several defenses are available to
defendants in criminal cases
 For example, sometimes a criminal act may be
considered excusable or justifiable
○ Defenses in this category include self-defense,
defense of property, & defense of others
O.J. Simpson Case
One of the most publicized criminal cases in
recent years was the murder trial of former
football star O.J. Simpson, in which he
claimed he wasn’t guilty in the killings of his
ex-wife & her friend
 By focusing the defense on improper police
behavior & investigation techniques, his legal
team convinced a jury there was reasonable
doubt as to his guilt
He was found not guilty on all counts
 In a civil case for wrongful death brought by
the surviving family members, a jury found
that a preponderance of the evidence went
against Simpson
 He was found liable & ordered to pay
compensatory & punitive damages to the
families of the two victims
The idea behind the two different standards
is that the penalty in criminal cases is much
more serious
 criminal record,
 imprisonment, &
 possible death sentence
Criminal penalties involve infringement on
an individual’s liberty (and possibly life) in
contrast to the lesser penalty in civil cases,
which is usually only monetary damages
Handout: Ch. 11 – Basic Concepts
evidence that the defendant was elsewhere at
the time of the crime
Defense of Others
Right to use reasonable force to defend other
Defense of Property
Right to use reasonable force to defend
Acting as a result of coercion or a threat of
immediate danger to life or personal safety
Elements of the crime were not all present
One of the required elements (identified in the
RCW’s) of the crime is missing
Evidence that defendant would not have
committed the crime if not for the inducement
of a police officer
Children under certain ages are incapable of
committing a crime
being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
to the extent that the defendant could not form
the specific intent to commit the crime;
applicable only in specific intent crimes
Due to a mental illness or defect, defendants
did not know what they were doing or did not
know the difference between right and wrong.
In other states, defendants lacked substantial
capacity to appreciate the nature of the crime
or to confirm their conduct to the requirements
of the law
Lack of Criminal Intent
Guilty mind required for the crime is missing
Mistake in Identity
Defendant was incorrectly identified as the
The defendant is compelled to react to an
unavoidable situation in order to protect life
Reasonable amount of force to protect oneself
No crime has been committed
 Defendant did not commit the crime
 Defendant committed a criminal act, but the
act was excusable or justifiable
 Defendant committed a criminal act but is not
criminally responsible for his or her actions
Fill out bottom of Basic Concepts Handout
No Crime Has Been Committed
The defendant may decide to try to prove that
(1) no crime was committed, or
(2) there was no criminal intent because the act was
simply committed by mistake
#5 – Elements of the crime were not all present
#10 – Lack of criminal intent
Defendant Did Not
Commit the Crime
When there is confusion or doubt about who
committed a crime, the defendant may try to prove that
there has been a case of mistaken identity & that he or
she was not the person responsible for the crime
 Today, DNA testing can sometimes be used to prove whether
or not the defendant was responsible
 In recent years, some people convicted of crimes have been
able to prove their innocence because of this testing
#1 – Alibi
#11 – Mistake in identity
Defendant Committed a Criminal Act,
but the Act Was Excusable or Justifiable
Sometimes a criminal act may be considered
excusable or justifiable
 This type of defense includes (13) selfdefense & defense of (3) property & (2) others
 The law allows people to use deadly force when
their own or someone else's life is in danger
 The law also permits people to use reasonable
force to protect themselves, their property, & others
from harm
Bernhard Goetz—Self-Defense
One famous case of self-defense involved a
man named Bernhard Goetz, who shot four
teens in what he claimed was self-defense
while riding on a New York City subway train
 Goetz had been mugged & robbed of
electronic equipment on a subway train a few
years earlier
 He feared it would happen again, especially
in his neighborhood, which was frequented
by drug addicts & other criminals
Therefore, Goetz applied for a license to
carry a gun to protect himself
 He was denied permission but obtained a
gun anyway
 One day he was surrounded in a subway car
by four youths who first asked him for “the
time,” then “a match,” & then “five dollars to
play video games”
Goetz replied, “I’ll give you each five dollars,”
& pulled a .38 revolver from his pocket &
shot all four youths
 Evidence showed that he shot one in the
back as he lay on the floor
 Goetz ran from the train & escaped but was
later arrested
 All four youths were seriously hurt & one was
permanently paralyzed
Three carried sharpened screwdrivers in their
pockets at the time of the shooting that they
may have used to pry open video game
machines to obtain quarters
If Goetz were tried for assault, what
would he have to establish to prove selfdefense?
Based on the facts, do you believe this
was a case of self-defense?
Should the teenagers be charged?
 If so, with what crime?
Should citizens be allowed to carry guns
& use them in self-defense?
Was Goetz guilty of a crime?
 If so, what crime?
 If convicted, what penalties, if any, do
you think he should face?
Goetz was eventually acquitted for
attempted murder & assault
 He was found guilty of illegal possession of
a deadly weapon & reckless
endangerment, & spent time in prison
Defendant Committed a Criminal Act
but Is Not Criminally Responsible for
His or Her Actions
In this type of defense, the defendant
acknowledges that he or she committed the act
but argues that there are reasons the law should
not consider the defendant criminally responsible
 The law recognizes several reasons that may excuse a
defendant from criminal responsibility
 These defenses include (7) infancy, (8) intoxication, (9)
insanity, (6) entrapment, (4) duress, & (12) necessity
Infancy Defense
The idea behind the infancy defense is similar to
the insanity defense:
People should not be convicted or punished if
they do not know right from wrong
 If a three-year old child plays with matches, starts a
fire, & the house burns down, is it arson?
What if the child were eight years old?
Eleven years old?
Sixteen years old?
Would your answers differ if kids of the same age were
fighting & one shot the other?
Defendants claim that at the time of the crime
they were so drunk or high on drugs that
they did not know what they were doing
 Voluntary intoxication is not a defense to a crime
 However, it may be a valid defense if the crime
requires proof of a specific mental state
Grady is charged with assault with intent to kill
 He claims he was drunk
 If he can prove that he was so drunk that he could not have
formed the intent to kill, his intoxication might be a valid
 Grady can still be convicted of the crime of assault, because
specific intent is not required to prove that crime
 However, if Grady had decided to kill the victim before he got
drunk or if he got drunk to get up enough nerve to commit
the crime, the intoxication would not be a defense
 This is because the required mental state (the intent to kill)
existed before the drunkenness
Insanity Defense
The basic concept is that people who have a
mental disease or disorder should not be
convicted if they do not know what they are
doing or if they do not know the difference
between right & wrong
 There is a difference between not guilty by
reason of insanity (used by most states & the
federal government) & not competent to
stand trial that exists in some states
The accused’s mental state can be an issue in
determining whether
 The defendant is competent to stand trial
 The defendant was sane at the time of the criminal
act, &
 The defendant is sane after the trial
The insanity defense applies only if the
accused was insane at the time of the crime
How & when may a state determine that person
found not guilty by reason of insanity should
reenter society?
Who should make that decision?

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