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4 Common Legal Defenses to Criminal Charges

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

4 Common Legal Defenses to Criminal Charges

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Common Legal Defenses in Texas

When someone is charged with a crime in Texas, they may have to present a defense in court. Hiring a lawyer is the best way to construct a solid legal defense. Criminal defense attorneys often use specific strategies to prove the innocence of the client or to point out holes in the prosecution’s case.

There are some strategies that work well against certain criminal charges. In fact, some of these strategies are so successful that they have become common in the legal system. Understanding more about these common defense strategies can help defendants gain insight into the methods that lawyers use to fight criminal accusations.

Types of Legal Defenses

Of course, there are virtually countless ways that an attorney can choose to present a legal defense in court. In most cases, the specific legal defense strategy that they choose will depend on the type of charges being filed and the actions of the defendant. However, many of these defense plans can be grouped into one of several categories. These categories include:

  • Innocence
  • Lack of Responsibility
  • Lack of Intent
  • Lack of Evidence

These strategies can be equally effective if they are used by skilled lawyers who have strong evidence to bring forward.


One of the most common defense claims is the total innocence of the defendant. In other words, a lawyer may argue that the defendant simply did not commit the actions for which they have been accused. One of the most common ways to establish the innocence of the defendant is to use a strong alibi.

A good alibi can be used to prove that the defendant was nowhere near the scene of the crime at the time it took place. For example, John is accused of committing a burglary at a house on the east side of town. However, John’s lawyer produces security camera footage from a bank on the north side of town showing that John was making a deposit at the time of the burglary. Therefore, there is no way that John had enough time to drive across town, commit the burglary and then drive back to the bank. This is strong evidence that John is innocent of the crime.

Lack of Responsibility

In some cases, a lawyer may admit that their client did, in fact, commit the crime for which they are accused but that their client cannot be held responsible for their actions. This may seem like an unusual strategy but in can be very effective in some cases.

For example, Sarah works for a large construction company. Sarah’s boss orders her to cover up the company’s illegal waste disposal practices. Sarah refuses but her boss threatens to fire her and ruin her reputation so she finally agrees. Sarah was placed under duress to break the law and her lawyer might argue that this excuses her from responsibility.

Lack of Intent

Some criminal charges require that the defendant had an intent to break the law in order to reach a conviction. For example, a person can be convicted of murder if it can be proved that they shot another person with the intent to end that person’s life.

In some cases, a person can commit a seemingly illegal act even though they did not intend to cause serious harm. Suppose that Dave is asleep in his house when he hears a window shatter. He grabs his shotgun and goes to investigate. He sees a man in his house trying to steal his TV. Dave fires the shotgun and the intruder is killed. Dave’s lawyer could claim that Dave’s intent was to defend his family and his home, not to kill another person. If this strategy is successful, Dave could avoid facing murder or manslaughter charges.

Lack of Evidence

Pointing out a lack of evidence in the prosecution’s case is a common defense strategy. This is because, under the law, a defendant must be presumed innocent until proven guilty and they must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This means that if the defense attorney can point to enough flaws in the prosecution’s case, doubt may created in the minds of the jurors so that they cannot reach a guilty verdict.

For example, Alan is accused of murdering his wife. The prosecution claims that Alan shot his wife with his personal handgun. However, Alan’s lawyer points out that there is no evidence that the couple had marital problems, there is no gunpowder residue on Alan’s clothes and there is no blood residue on the gun. He also claims that there is no evidence showing that Alan was near his wife when the murder occurred. With enough evidence, this could lead to dropped charges.

A defense attorney can help their client build the best legal defense for their case.

Houston attorney Greg Tsioros has the knowledge and experience needed to protect your legal rights. If you are being accused of a crime, contact his office today at (832) 752-5972.

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