March 1, 2013
Legal Defenses Checkpoint
Three legal defenses that could be used in court to excuse behavior are insanity, self-defense, and entrapment. Insanity is when the defendant did not know what he or she was doing at the time of the crime, or did not know that it was wrong. It is when the individual is not in their right mind because of mental illness or such. Usually they are sent to psychiatric facilities for treatment and if treated, they are transferred to prisons to complete their terms. Self-defense is when the victim of a potentially deadly attack kills another because it is the only reasonable thing to do to protect them from bodily harm and they are unable to get away. Those who use the self-defense plea are saying that they acted appropriately for the situation and not doing so would have resulted in their own death or serious injury. “Entrapment is a situation in which the government takes actions that lead to or ‘create an opportunity’ for crime to happen” (Meyer & Grant, 2003, p. 41). For example, a government agent convincing someone to commit a crime, who would otherwise not commit a crime. Entrapment is rarely a successful defense and not valid unless it was a government agent persuading or planting the idea in an individual. Meyer & Grant (2003) state that, “to be a crime, an act requires three important elements: actus reus, mens rea, and concordance between the two” (p. 28). The act must be a guilty act or omission (actus reus), meaning voluntary and breaking an existing criminal statute, and have a guilty state of mind (mens rea). However, there is an exception, say when one is convicted of a crime like vehicular homicides with no intend to harm anyone.
Meyer, J. & Grant, D. (2003). The Courts in our Criminal Justice System. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.