Affirmative defenses is the answer to which a defendant gives the court in response to the crime they are charged with. There are two main types of affirmative defenses, Justifications and excuses. Justifications and excuses are answers that the defended did do the crime but they can give a wonderful and perfectly good reason why they did it and they should not be held responsible for the crime they committed. Because every case is different there is a plethora of justifications and excuses, some traditional that have been heard many times in the court and justifications and excuses that have never been heard in a court of law.
The first type of defense Im going to write about is justifications. Justifications are defenses that claim the defended did indeed commit the crime but they commit the crime for a very good reason. Four of the most popular and most used justifications are self-defense, public duty, necessity, and consent.
The justification of self-defense is based on the defense that the defendant has the right to protect themselves as well as family from harm, such as robbery or rape. The self-defense justifications can be used when a person commits a crime such as assault or murder when the defendant believed they were about to be or already been physically harmed. There are stipulations to this defense, such as the defendant cannot use more force than what is reasonable. Another fact is that the danger the defendant felt has to be
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immediate. What this means is that the defendant cannot claim that they committed the crime because they felt they would be in danger in the future. The laws are different in every state as for some states will allow you can use self-defense if the danger is not immediate. Another requirement for most states to accept this defense is that the defendant had tried to escape before committing the crime. But then if the crime was committed in the defendants house the defendant is expected to protect their property and not try to escape or retreat.
The public duty defense is another type of justification but is used most by police officers, members of the armed forces, and public servants. This defense is based on the defendant was acting with in their power that there job gives them. For example a police officer is in pursue of a stolen vehicle. When He gets the criminal to pull over and the criminal attempts to shoot the police officer but misses and the officer shoots the criminal and kills them. The police officer is not guilty of murder because he was acting with in his authority and did use deadly force that was justified to protect. Deadly force is not justified if the police officer reasonably believed they could have apprehending the criminal with out having to shoot them.
The defense of necessity is a little tricky to explain, but its the claim that the defendant had to commit the crime to prevent something worse from
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happening. A few examples would be violating the speed limit to get a dying person to the hospital, or destroying property to prevent the spread of fire or contain a fire.
The last justification Im going to write about is consent defense. This defense is based on the fact that the people involved had both agreed to the activity that had then led up to the injury or death. A great example would be boxers, if during a boxing match one boxer punches the other boxer and he dies from the blow there is no crime because both parties agreed to the activity.
The other type of affirmative defense is excuses. Excuses are when the defendant does not deny the fact that they committed the crime but because of some other factor at the time of the crime they should not be held responsible.
The insanity defense refers to that branch of the concept of insanity, which defines the extent to which people accused of crimes may be relieved of criminal
responsibility by virtue of mental disease. The final determination of mental illness rests solely on the jury who uses information drawn from the testimony of “expert” witnesses, usually professionals in the field of psychology. The net result of such a determination
places an individual accordingly, be it placement in a mental facility, incarceration, or outright release. Due to these factors, there are several problems with the insanity defense. Problems such as the actual possibility of
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determining mental illness, justifiable placement of judged “mentally ill” offenders, and the overall usefulness of such a defense.
Insanity is a legal, not a medical definition. Therefore, mental illness and insanity are not the same: only some mental illness includes insanity. Insanity, however,
includes not only mental illness but also mental deficiencies. Due to this, there are problems in exactly how to apply a medical theory to a legal matter (Herman,
1983). The major difficulty with a theory such as mental illness is that it is just that, a theory. To scientists theories are a way of life, but applied to the concept of law theories become somewhat dangerous. By applying a loose theory such as mental illness to law we are in essence throwing the proverbial “monkey wrench” into the wheels of justice.