Defenses to criminal liability: these are defenses that either reduce or completely dissipate your liability to a criminal offense. They include things you hear about all the time, like self-defense. But they also include other things that the news and movies might not talk about as much. You’ve probably never heard of adequate provocation (unless your attorney mentioned it, or it was mentioned in your case).
Defenses to criminal liability include commonly referenced laws such as self-defense, defense of property, and coercion. Less commonly discussed but equally important defenses include intoxication, necessity, mistake, adequate provocation and privilege. They’re all important, and they’re all important to understand when assessing any criminal case.
Defenses to criminal liability are affirmative defenses. Affirmative defenses aren’t arguing that the State lacks “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” These defenses acknowledge that the State can show the offense has been committed, but that the situation warrants a dismissal of charges against the defendant. Affirmative defenses are not an issue in the case until raised by evidence in the case.
Below we’ve broken down each defense to criminal liability: