What Are Possible Defenses to a Murder Charge?
There are basically only three defenses to a murder charge.
The first is “I didn’t do it.” You argue that someone else committed the murder and the evidence against your client is too weak to support a conviction.
The second and more common defense is self-defense. You admit to killing the person but argue that you only did it because you were threatened with deadly force and afraid for your life.
The third is the insanity defense. You admit to killing the person but argue that you were insane at the time. Murder trials in which insanity is raised as defense are extremely rare. In most cases where insanity is a realistic defense, the accused will have a history of mental illness and psychiatric hospitalizations and the state and defense will be able to reach an agreement of a “not guilty by reason of insanity” judgment. That doesn’t mean that the defendant is released, however. It means that they are sent to a state mental hospital for treatment to try to cure their insanity. Such hospitalizations can last as long as a prison sentence for murder.
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