Two Little Known Defenses to Criminal Offenses

Posted on: 3 June 2015


If you have been charged with a crime, then your first (and maybe only) reaction may be to claim that you didn't do it. You may even take it a step further by providing an alibi (being out of town, at work, asleep at home) to deny your involvement in the crime. However, having a criminal defense lawyer will help you to come up with more defenses. Some of the defenses you may not know about include the following.


When you invoke the defense of automatism, you are admitting the act, but you are also claiming that you shouldn't be held accountable for it because you were not aware of your actions at the time. In essence, you are claiming that since you were not aware of what you were doing, you couldn't have controlled yourself. You have the burden of proving automatism.

There are two major forms of automatism:

  • Insane automatism – this is an involuntary conduct where only your muscles are involved in the act, but your mind has been rendered useless by a disease of the mind.
  • Non-insane automatism – in this case, the lack of awareness is caused by other things other than insanity. Examples include sleep walking or being under the influence of drugs.


This defense is based on the premise that infants/children are incapable of committing crime because they do not have a clear understanding of right and wrong. Children under the age of seven are (in most states) presumed to be incapable of committing crimes too, but it depends on the nature of the crime and the level of evidence available. It's the responsibility of the prosecution to prove that, despite your "infancy," you knew what you were doing.

Therefore, you may use this defense if you have been accused of a crime that you allegedly committed when you were a child. What is more, the courts shall consider your age at the time of the criminal act, and not at the time of trial.

As you can see, many defense options become available when you hire a lawyer. Even if you do know about these defenses, you may not have the skills to prove them in court. A defense lawyer will use his or her skills, fact witnesses, expert witnesses, evidence, and any other thing necessary to succeed with his or her chosen strategy. For more information, talk to a criminal defense lawyer.