The Four Main Categories Of Criminal Defense

If you're currently facing a possible criminal charge, your lawyer may be prepared to argue your innocence using several different methods. While every situation is different, there are four major categories that can be used by lawyers to help prove you were not involved or guilty of committing the crime. Here are the different defense terms often used in court to help prove that a defendant is not liable for the crime.


In some cases, a person may not be of sound mind when a crime was committed. If a defendant has been found to be suffering from a mental disorder, the charges may not be dropped but the penalty could be lessened. In order to prove insanity, a defendant must be seen by a court-appointed psychologist who can objectively diagnose the person's mental status. If the person has been deemed insane by the court, they may be admitted into a mental health care facility rather than facing jail time.

Self Defense

Sometimes, a person must defend their lives in order to stay safe, thereby committing a crime. For example, if a burglar breaks in and holds a person at gunpoint and the homeowner shoots and kills the burglar, they can plead self-defense. The lawyer must be able to show the court that the defendant's life was in imminent danger and that their actions were taken solely to preserve their own life and safety. Witness testimony, video, and audio files can be especially helpful for those who are pleading self-defense in order to prove that the other person was acting in a threatening manner.


If a person accused of a crime has an alibi to testify of their whereabouts when a crime occurred, they can usually be cleared. Examples of alibi include another person testifying as to where they were at the time of the crime, or a movie ticket stub or credit card statement showing they were somewhere else when the crime happened. Alibi testimony is integral to the defense process, since it proves that the accused was not present at the time or at the place of the crime when it happened.

Statute Of Limitations

In most states, certain crimes have a statute of limitations applied to them. If the time frame passes and a defendant has not been charged or tried, they are no longer left responsible for the crime. While more serious charges like murder do not typically have a statute of limitations, lesser crimes like theft do. Be sure to check with your criminal law attorney to find out what your state's current statute of limitations are in order to ensure that you're outside of the legal timeframe to face charges.