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Understanding Affirmative Defense: What It Means for Criminal Defendants

What It Means for Criminal Defendants

As a criminal defendant in Massachusetts, you may be familiar with the traditional defense strategies of attacking the prosecution's case and advancing evidence to establish your innocence. These types of defenses are what most people think about when they hear the word "defense," but there is another important tool at your disposal: Affirmative Defense. Understanding how to use this option effectively can have a major impact on your case and, ultimately, an improved outcome in court.

In this blog post, we'll look at exactly what affirmative defense means for someone facing criminal charges in Massachusetts and answer some frequently asked questions about this type of defense strategy.

What Is Affirmative Defense?

An affirmative defense is a legal defense that the defendant can assert to justify or excuse their actions, even if the plaintiff's claims against them are true. This defense places the burden of proof on the defendant to provide evidence and prove their defense. Unlike traditional defenses, affirmative defense acknowledges that the defendant committed the actions that the plaintiff is claiming but argues that the actions were excusable or justified in some way.

Examples of common affirmative defense strategies include:

  • Self-defense
  • Infancy
  • Insanity
  • Necessity
  • Entrapment
  • Duress
  • Coercion
  • Consent
  • Statute of limitations
  • Double jeopardy

Affirmative defenses are an important part of the criminal justice system. They allow defendants to raise legal arguments that would otherwise be waived if they simply denied the allegations. By allowing defendants to raise affirmative defenses, the criminal justice system ensures that defendants are not punished for acts they were justified in committing.

For more information about different types of affirmative defense, review this blog post.

Burden of Proof in Affirmative Defense

In an affirmative defense case, the burden of proof lies with the defendant, meaning that the defendant must present evidence that supports their defense. They must provide enough evidence to lead a reasonable jury to conclude that their defense is more likely than not. The burden of proof for affirmative defenses is on the defendant. This means that the defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the affirmative defense applies.

Affirmative defense cases can be challenging to build a strong case for, particularly since the burden of proof lies on the defendant to prove their defense. It is crucial to have an experienced criminal defense attorney to help with your case, as they can gather evidence, investigate the case, and build a defense that can convince the jury that their client's actions were excusable or justified, even if the facts of the case against them are true.

Here are some additional tips for raising an affirmative defense:

  • Talk to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you determine if an affirmative defense is appropriate for your case, and they can help you gather evidence to support the defense.
  • Be prepared to present evidence in support of the affirmative defense. The prosecution will likely challenge you, so you must be prepared to present compelling evidence supporting your defense. This may include physical evidence, witness testimony, or expert opinions.
  • Be patient. It is important to remember that an affirmative defense strategy may take time to resolve. The court will need to review the evidence and make a ruling on the defense. This can be a lengthy process, so it is important to be patient and turn to your attorney for guidance.

At Brad Bailey Law, we understand how terrifying it can be to face criminal charges. We also know how critical it is to explore all your defense strategy options. When we work with clients, we aim to help them make these crucial legal decisions from a well-informed position so they can feel as confident as possible during this very difficult time.

Do you have questions about pursuing an affirmative defense for your case? Reach out to our Boston-based law firm today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced, skilled criminal defense attorney.

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