Legal Defenses in Criminal Law: 17 Different Types


The defense of innocence claims you didn’t commit the crime Beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecution must prove the charge. You don’t need to prove innocence but can provide supporting evidence. Also check: best criminal lawyer in bangalore

Constitutional Violations

These involve how evidence was collected. Illegal searches, seizures, improper confessions, or failure to read Miranda Rights can result in evidence suppression or case dismissal.


An alibi is proof that you were elsewhere when the crime occurred, supported by testimony, surveillance footage, or receipts.


The insanity defense, though rare, requires proving severe mental illness at the crime time, affecting your ability to know right from wrong or control impulses. This defense admits to the crime but claims insanity, often leading to institutionalization if successful.


Self-defense applies to crimes like assault or murder where you use reasonable force to respond to violence or its threat. The force must be proportionate to that used by the victim.


This defense is similar to self-defense but involves protecting another person from violence. The application of force must be both justified and proportional.


This defense involves using force to protect property from damage or destruction. Lethal force is not allowed.

Involuntary Intoxication

If you were unknowingly intoxicated, such as having a spiked drink, this defense can negate intent, a crucial element in many crimes.

Voluntary Intoxication

Deliberately getting drunk or high isn’t a defense. However, it might apply to crimes requiring specific intent if the intoxication negates that intent.

Mistake of Law / Fact

This defense involves a genuine misunderstanding of a key crime element. For instance, believing you had permission to use someone’s property can defend against theft or embezzlement charges.

Duress or Coercion

This defense applies if you were forced to commit a crime due to threats of violence against you or your family, often depicted in movies about organized crime.

Abandonment / Withdrawal

If you intended to commit a crime but then withdrew from it, you can claim this defense. You must show you stopped participating before the crime was completed and your actions did not contribute to its success.


Necessity applies when committing a crime to prevent greater harm, such as stealing a car to rush a victim to the hospital. The harm prevented must outweigh the crime committed.


In Texas, consent is a strong defense. If the victim willingly consented to your actions, such as giving you their car keys, no crime occurred. Consent can be direct (verbal or written) or apparent (implied by circumstances).


Entrapment occurs if law enforcement persuades you to commit a crime you wouldn’t have otherwise committed. You must prove that the officer’s influence caused the crime.

Age Affecting Criminal Responsibility

In Texas, individuals aged 10-15 are generally not held responsible for non-juvenile crimes. Most charges cannot be brought against those under 15.

Statute of Limitations

This defense argues that the case cannot be prosecuted because too much time has passed since the alleged crime.