Common Defenses to Criminal Charges in Manassas

When you have been charged with a crime, the first thing you should do is contact a Manassas Criminal Defense Lawyer who will take the time to listen to your side of the story and build a strong case for your defense. However, you may not have a very clear idea as to what types of defenses are available that might be used to defend you. If so, read on to find out what some of the most common defenses to criminal charges in Manassas are. Once you understand which of them are applicable in your case, you can explore your options with your attorney.

Understanding Criminal Defense

Through criminal defense, your lawyer will attempt to challenge the sufficiency and validity of the evidence that the prosecution possesses. This is the party that will be trying to prove the criminal charges against you. To be successful, the prosecution must prove your alleged crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

Proving every element of the crime that you have been charged with beyond a reasonable doubt is known as the “burden of proof” and it is something difficult to accomplish.

Most Common Defenses to Criminal Charges

Below is a list of some of the major criminal defenses. These are:


By claiming innocence, you are basically saying that you did not commit the crime. If you claim innocence, you do not have to prove anything but it may strengthen your case if you offer documents, testimony, or other evidence supporting your claim.

Constitutional Violations

Claiming that there are constitutional violations in your case means you have evidence to prove that the evidence that was collected by police and other law enforcement agents was obtained in a manner that broke the law. If you can prove this, your entire case may be dismissed.

Constitutional violations may be an illegal search of your person, home, clothing, or vehicle. It may also mean that the authorities failed to obtain a warrant for entry or that they failed to read you your Miranda Rights when you were arrested. Many times, police make mistakes. Having evidence to prove that this happened in your case, may work in your favor.


Claiming that you have an alibi means that it will be up to you to prove that you were somewhere other than at the scene of the crime at the time the crime was supposed to have taken place. To support this claim, you may bring in someone who was with you at that time or show surveillance footage from the place where you were, or provide receipts from restaurants, movie theaters, sporting events, stores, or phone records to confirm your whereabouts at the time.


You may be familiar with the insanity defense because it is often used in TV courtroom dramas and movies. However, in real life, this type of defense is used very infrequently. This is because when you claim insanity, it falls on you to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt. You must provide strong evidence that you were suffering from severe mental distress when the crime was committed.

Proving insanity means proving that you were unable to distinguish between right and wrong when committing the crime, or that you had an irresistible impulse to commit this misdeed. This means that you were aware that what you were about to do was wrong but were unable to stop yourself on time before doing it.

Another reason why insanity is rarely used is that it starts by requiring you to admit that you committed the crime for which you are being charged. If the jury does not agree with your proof of insanity, you will have given the prosecution a very easy win. Finally, if you are able to convince the jury that you are insane, you may end up being institutionalized.


In cases of murder, battery, or assault, you may use the self-defense argument when justifying why you did the violent actions you carried out. It is expected that the amount of violence you used was reasonable and proportionate to the amount of force used by the victim, or even less.

Defense of Others

Defense of others is used in cases in which you felt obligated to act violently to defend someone else. This could be your spouse, your child, another family member, someone close to you, or even a stranger. You could invoke this defense in cases where you were convinced you had to act to stop someone who was physically attacking someone else.

Defense of Property

When you fear that something that belongs to you is about to be destroyed or damaged, you may claim you reacted to defend your property. However, this defense has a particular limitation in the sense that the amount of force you utilize while attempting to protect your property cannot be lethal.

Involuntary Intoxication

If you were in a state where you did not know or understand what you were doing because you were intoxicated, you may claim an involuntary intoxication defense. In this case, the intent aspect of most crimes is canceled out.

You can claim involuntary intoxication if you suspect that your drink was spiked or that you ate something at a party without realizing that it was “laced” or that you were drugged with a narcotic. Involuntary intoxication is not universally useful as a defense against criminal charges.

Voluntary Intoxication

If you get drunk or high intentionally and then go out and commit a crime, you will not get away with it by claiming that you voluntarily intoxicated yourself. Only when it comes to certain crimes that have a specific intent requirement you may be successful at using this type of defense.

Duress or Coercion

If you claim that someone else was using force or violence to make you do something you were not otherwise willing to do such as harm a member of your own family, you may use this defense to explain why you did something that went against your better judgment.