Violent crimes refer to those in which an offender uses force — or threatens to use force — to inflict physical harm on another. These offenses are different from those that are considered non-violent, such as property crimes or drug possession. Some examples of violent crimes in Arkansas and Missouri can include aggravated assault, battery, sexual assault, robbery, and murder.
Many violent crimes are charged as felonies. Based on the seriousness of the offense, a conviction can often result in years, decades, or up to life in prison. However, it’s important to understand that being accused of a crime is not the same as being convicted. While every case has different facts and circumstances, there are several common defense strategies that a good criminal defense attorney may use to protect your rights and freedom.
To be found guilty of a crime, the state must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution does not meet this very high burden, you cannot be convicted. Depending on the facts of the case, you might argue that the state did not raise sufficient evidence that you were the individual who committed the crime.
A defense of mistaken identity undermines the reliability of a witness in identifying the individual who committed the crime. For instance, the witness may not have been able to see due to distance or poor lighting. Or, you might have similar physical characteristics to the individual who committed the crime. Various issues related to memory or perception can result in a victim or witness identifying the wrong person in a police lineup or photo array.
An alibi is a powerful defense that can be used to demonstrate that you could not have committed the alleged crime because you were in a different location at the same time it occurred. Different types of evidence may support an alibi defense, including photographs, witness testimony, receipts, or other time-stamped documentation.
Self-defense is a criminal defense strategy that may be mounted in murder, assault, battery, domestic violence, or other cases involving violent crimes. If the use of physical force that resulted in the alleged criminal act was reasonably necessary to protect yourself or others from harm, you might be able to argue that your actions were justified. Arkansas and Missouri also recognize the “castle doctrine,” which allows for the use of physical force reasonably necessary to protect yourself and others should an intruder enter your home.
When a defendant pleads insanity, they argue that they did not have the mental capacity to form the intent to commit the crime or understand the wrongfulness of the criminal act. While this is a complex and challenging defense to mount, a defendant who can establish that they were insane when the violent crime was committed cannot be found legally guilty. Although a defendant who successfully uses this defense may avoid a prison sentence, they may still be subject to treatment at a mental health facility.
There are limited circumstances under which involuntary intoxication can provide a defense to a violent crime, such as an assault. If you ingested alcohol or drugs without your knowledge — or were forced to do so — you may have a viable defense to violent crimes like assault or battery if the intoxication prevented you from forming the necessary intent. Similar to the insanity defense, if you could not understand the nature of your actions as a result of involuntary intoxication, you may be able to get the charges against you dismissed.
Specific criminal law procedures must be followed by law enforcement and the prosecution — failure to do so can result in a violation of your Constitutional rights. Critically, even if you were given the Miranda warning, any confession must be made voluntarily and of your own free will in order to be admissible as evidence in court. If a confession was obtained by the police or prosecution involuntarily through the use of intimidation, threat, or coercion, it may be challenged in court and excluded from trial.
Both Arkansas and Missouri recognize the affirmative defense of duress. Although duress can’t be used as a defense to murder, it may be applied in robbery cases. If you can show that you were coerced into criminal conduct by the use or threat of physical force, you may be able to have the charges brought against you dropped. You must also demonstrate to the jury that you had a reasonable fear the threat you were facing would have been carried out, and there was no way you could have avoided committing the criminal act.
Double jeopardy is a procedural defense that may be raised in the event that the prosecution brings charges for the same crime within the jurisdiction following an acquittal. Under the U.S. Constitution and the state constitutions in Arkansas and Missouri, a defendant cannot be criminally prosecuted twice for the same crime.
If you’ve been accused of a violent crime in Arkansas or Missouri, the penalties can be severe. It’s crucial to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side who can offer the most vigorous defense possible for your case. Located in Paragould, Arkansas, The Graham Law Firm represents clients who have been charged with a wide variety of violent crimes in Arkansas and Missouri. Contact The Graham Law Firm today to schedule a consultation with a skilled criminal defense attorney who will fight to protect your rights.