Criminal Defense Case Analysis
February 02, 2015
Criminal Defense Case Analysis
One of the greatest right’s we have in America is the right to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. It is ultimately the job of the prosecutor to prove to the people, the jury and to the court that the accused is in fact guilty of a crime. The accused either has his own or appointed attorney to present his various defenses to argue why he acted the way he did during the crime. According to Criminal Law Today, “A defense consists of evidence and arguments offered by a defendant and his or her attorneys to show why that person should not be held liable for a criminal charge” (Schmalleger 2010, pg. 114). This paper will discuss various forms of criminal defenses and how they are used in court. Justification Defense, the courts require that the prosecutor prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of a crime, the defense can take an offensive role in their trial by taking an affirmative defense. Instead of sitting back and waiting for the prosecuting attorney to attempt to prove the defendant’s guilt, the defendant can fight back with defenses. The defense of necessity claims that the defendant believes it was necessary to commit the criminal act in order to prevent or avoid great harm (Schmalleger, 2010 pg 116). An interesting case that a defense of necessity was used was Regina v. Dudley and Stephens (1884) where three seamen, Thomas Dudley, Edward Stephens, and a man named Brooks were onboard an English ship in 1884 when their ship sank. They escaped to a lifeboat with another individual named Richard Parker who was 17 years old. Little food was stored onboard the lifeboat, but after 12 days at sea, they found themselves out of food and water. Eight days after running out of food Thomas Dudley and Edward Stephens decided to kill Richard Parker and eat his flesh and drink his blood. Brooks did not participate in the killing and consuming of Richard and 4 days later the men were rescued by a passing ship. Thomas and Edward were each charged with Richard’s murder. At trial, they offered the defense of necessity, saying that it had been necessary to kill Richard so that they could have the opportunity at survival since there were no other means of food and water. The courts agreed that the conditions they endured at sea were terrible, but they did not agree with the necessity defense. The courts found Thomas Dudley and Edward Stephens guilty of murder. They were sentenced to die, however, the Queen later reduced their sentence to six months in prison. Justification plays a role in this case because of the fact that the defendants were out to sea and had run out of food and water. They felt justified in killing the man because it allowed them to have food to eat and they drank his blood. Self-defense is based on the belief that individuals believe that they have an essential right to protect themselves from an attack in a threatening situation. In 1997, a South Carolina woman was arrested on charges of assault with a deadly weapon after trying to run over a man who allegedly had just raped her repeatedly just minutes before. The woman told police that the suspect, a man named Charles Hayward, broke into her house at night while she was alone and sleeping. He apparently forced his way into her bedroom, severely beat her, robbed her, and raped her twice. He then forced her out of the home and into her car, ordering her to drive him to a different area. The woman, however, on a fast instinct, quickly jumped into her car and locked the doors before the suspect could enter. A police detective stated the following morning: “She was fortunate enough to jump in the car and lock the doors. However, she started the vehicle up and tried her to run over the suspect. In doing so, she ended up stuck in the ditch by a neighbor’s house.” The woman blew her car horn, waking up...
References: Regina v. Dudley and Stephens, 14 Q.B.D. 273 (1884).
Schmalleger, F., Hall, D. E., & Dolatowski, J.J. (2010).Criminal law today: An introduction with capstone cases. (4th ed.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Lippman, M. (2010). Contemporary criminal law: Concepts, cases, and controversies. (2nd ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
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