The defense of alibi allows for a person to prove that he was not at the scene of the crime when it was committed.
Intoxication is another defense most commonly associated with basic intent crimes. The argument in support portrays that the accused was unable to form the mens rea of the offense he is charged for. There are two types of intoxication, voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary intoxication is able to negate the specific intent in some crimes, such as murder or residential burglary, thereby reducing the sentence to one less severe (DPP v Majewski, 1976). For basic (or general) intent crimes, such as theft, assault, etc, the act of voluntary intoxication itself becomes the recklessness required as part of the mens rea. Only involuntary intoxication is a defense to a general intent crime.
Mistake of fact is another defense which has mitigating consequences with respect to jail time or a reduction in liability. It allows a defendant to claim that the commission of his offense came about as a result of a mistake of facts. This defense only applies to both basic and specific intent crimes, and requires that the mistake is honest and reasonably believed to be true, which is left for the jury to decide (R v Park, 1995).
Self-defense allows for a person to engage in physical violence in fear of their own life or personal injury to themselves or others. The retaliation may even be deadly, as long as it is proportional to the threat faced so that a fear of serious personal injury or death is required, and the defendant must reasonably believe the threat. This defense is considered as an excuse or justification to the offense.
The defense of necessity, although very rarely allowed, is the result of innovative common law judgments. It allows for a lesser harm to be committed in order to avoid a greater harm. It is a justification defense and may even be an exculpation for breaking the law in some cases. It is defined by S 3.02 of the Model Penal Code of the American Law Institute, a definition adopted by various States on their own penal systems. The defense requires the threat of imminent greater harm before the lesser harm can be justified (R v Latimer, 2001).
Duress is a justification defense following which, the accused contends that his unlawful act would not have been committed had it not been coerced as a result of a threat to serious personal injury or life. The threat must be immediate and inescapable (Gaines & Miller, 2006). This defense allows for the prosecution an easy route to prove that the defendant in fact did commit the act, and is similar to a plea of guilty. It is utilized in cases of rape to negate consent, but cannot be used in crimes of murder, attempted murder (R v Howe, 1987) and some forms of treason.
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