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Criminal Defenses and Punishments

Criminal defense is an argument that tactically attempts to examine the validity of the prosecution’s evidence against an accused person. The criminal defense selected depends on the crime charged and the proof at disposal. The different types of criminal defense; affirmative defense, insanity defense and duress or coercion defense are discussed in this paper. In addition, the paper also highlights the differences between castle law and stand- your- ground laws as well as the countries that practice them. Furthermore, the paper also discusses the adversary legal system and its distinguishing features.

Types of criminal defenses and criminal punishments

There are several types of criminal defenses. Affirmative criminal defense puts efforts to challenge the prosecutor’s evidence by verifying that it is a false. However, when they admit part of the prosecutor’s accusations as true, it is referred to affirmative defenses. In these affirmative defenses the defendant and his attorney give evidence to sustain their defense. For example, if an individual is accused with first degree murder, the defendant and his advocate might give an alibi eyewitness who would attest on their where about at the alleged time.

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Secondly, another form of defense is the insanity defense. Though it is not frequently used, the defense agrees that you committed the crime out of ignorance of the implications. To use this defense there should be clear medical records that indicate that prior the crime there was an incidence of mental disorder. Relying on this technique of defense is dangerous because using it means that an individual confesses that they had committed a crime and there is high likelihood of being guilty. The third method of defense is the duress or coercion. This is a form of affirmative defense where the perpetrator accepts that they committed the crime but because they were defenseless or they were forced. The threat of unlawful force at times is enough to satisfy the duress defense. The force does not have to be directly to an individual but to even their family members or colleagues. For instance, if an individual commits a crime to protect their family whose life are threatened. Abandonment and withdrawal defense is one of the other defenses that can be used. This states that an individual was going to commit a crime or be an accomplice to a crime but dropped. In this case, the perpetrator did not have direct contribution to the crime. Other criminal defenses include self-defense, consent, intoxication and statute of limitation. The decree of limitation is when the time the tribunal brings charges to the perpetrator had passed and, therefore, the charges are dropped. With reference to criminal punishments, there are several sentences that can be passed by a judge which could be classified into custodial and non-custodial charges. Depending on the offence, secondary non-custodial preference could be appropriate such confiscation, disqualification and in other instances compensation. If the punishment is imprisonment, an individual could be given mandatory, maximum or minimum sentencing. Mandatory sentencing must be imposed; some crimes such as murder carry mandatory sentences of life imprisonment. Maximum sentences are followed in accordance to the specified times in the law maximum sentences are used as the preliminary point for the judges as they look for the most suitable sentencing. The minimum sentence is all the times left to the choice of the judge. However, there are certain laws that take away the right of the judge’s rights and needs to oblige to the minimum sentence. For example, if an individual is a first time criminal, the judge can enforce a lesser ruling with regards to guilt-ridden plea. Non-custodial punishment includes the suspended sentences where the judge levies some rules and circumstances. This means that as long as the suspect lives by the terms stipulated in their agreement, they do not go to prison. Examples include when an individual accused is sick and needs health attention or to keep peace and respectable behaviors. Other punishments include community service commands where as a form of punishment a person is required to do services to the community, in its place of prison sentence. A number of considerations are made before an individual is permitted to do community work. The other form is through fines, this in most instances deals with negligible offenses. The judge stipulates the time period of compensation of the fine. Other forms include curfews and restriction of movement punishments.

The castle doctrine verses stand your ground types of criminal defense

The castle doctrine and the stand your ground laws are both affirmative defenses with the individuals that are charged with homicide crimes. The castle Doctrine states that an accused person has no duty to withdraw when in their home, and may use any sensible quantity of law to protect and safeguard their property or another person. Outside the castle, an individual has the duty to retreat before using reasonable force. This law is used in over forty states including Connecticut courts. On the other hand, stand- your- ground law allows a person to use deadly force only as a form of self-defense. Where there is no reasonable belief of injury or threat, an individual has the obligation to retreat. Twenty states have stand your ground laws. Both these laws generally require a person to have the legal rights of being in the location and not be engaging in any form of unlawful activities. For example, Florida’s implementation of stand your ground law has newly came into light with the case of shooting of a teenage boy by a neighborhood watch volunteers. Florida’s law states that a person has the rights to stand their ground to avert death or bodily harm. Majority of Florida courts have understood the stand your ground law to mean affirmative form of defense.

The basic features of adversarial system

The United States uses the adversary legal system, where the parties presents their arguments, are given time to gather their evidence, call and question the witness within the limits of certain rules. The judge and jury stay neutral through the court case proceedings. The trial is intended to emphasize the clash between the two parties with the ethical guidelines of professional comportment designed to avert abuses. The jury works well in the antagonist legal systems since they wait through the trial for the sole job of making final judgments. One of the main drawback of this system is that is sluggish and very cumbersome. Others reason that because the parties control the lawsuit, they are encouraged to present the proofs that are promising to them. The sixth amendment states that all the accused individuals shall enjoy a speedy public trial impartially by any jury or state where the crime is alleged to have been committed. According to the rights of speedy trial guaranteed in the sixth amendment the adversary legal systems does not really give this right options for it to be exploited fully. For example, the cases can drag for lengthy period as the parties search for evidence, hence slow justice process. For example, in the case of Simpson, a sports caster and a professional football player’s trial in 1995, the criminal justice system left many people wondering with the trial going on each day for a period more than one year.


The knowledge on criminal law and the sentences as well as the operations of the legal system is vital to everyone. The adversary legal system practiced in the United States. Both parties have the obligation of doing a best possible job of looking for proof to back-up their case. Since each of the sides is given equal chances to present their case, it is considered that human dignity is strengthened and both parties have a high probability of accepting the judgement passed at the end of the day. However, some of the critics argue that the United States legal system is equivalent to a battle field where persons fight and the finest person wins the fight.

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