Criminal Defenses: the 4 Main Categories

What are the four categories of criminal defenses

If you’re looking to find out more about the four main categories of criminal defenses, it must mean that your criminal case is about to begin and that you’re doing everything you can to prepare for it. However, don’t forget to get familiar with the different stages of the court process, as well as the minutiae of criminal motion hearings.

Only once you’ve learned more about these aspects of the criminal law can you begin your trial. But not before hiring an experienced qualified legal representation. While many individuals focus on trying to find the most affordable criminal attorney in San Diego, you should focus more on knowledge and track record when choosing your lawyer. 

You cannot go through the entire process of a criminal trial all alone, nor should you. There are qualified professionals that can help you go through it. But, it still doesn’t hurt to know more about the categories of criminal defenses.

What are the four categories of criminal defenses?

Criminal courts require the jury or the judge to determine guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order to find the defendant “guilty” for a crime. That is why criminal attorneys employ various criminal defense strategies in order to create reasonable doubt for their clients. 

When it comes to criminal cases, there are usually four major criminal defense strategies that criminal attorneys employ: innocenceconstitutional violationsself-defense, and insanity. Each of these strategies has its uses in different cases, and selecting the best strategy for a case depends on the case itself, but also on the experience and the prowess of the criminal lawyer. Let’s see what the four primary categories of criminal defenses are.


Even though pleading innocent seems like the most straightforward of defenses, you and your attorney need to do a lot more than simply take the witness stand and say you did not do it. A criminal attorney still has to spend a lot of time building a defense strategy around the claim of innocence in order to successfully bring the case to closure. 

Your attorney should search for experts and witnesses to testify, and even help find potential evidence that could point to you not being able to commit the crime. Sometimes, the defense revolves around evidence that clearly shows that another party is guilty of a crime, while at other times all you need are strong alibi witnesses.

The job of the prosecution remains the same – to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, that is not your concern. You and your attorney should focus on presenting as much evidence and as many witnesses and experts that prove your innocence.

Constitutional violations

Whether you’re guilty of a crime or not, you have the right to some protections under the Constitution of the United States of America. Constitutional violations are very common in criminal trials, especially concerning the treatment of the defendants, the circumstances of the arrest, and the manner in which the evidence was collected.

A good violation of the Constitution can often get the charges completely dismissed, or it can make the prosecution agree to a certain plea bargain for a less harsh charge. Experienced criminal lawyers will immediately look for Constitutional violations, as they make an effective, powerful defense. Here are some of the most common Constitutional violations:

  • Not reading the Miranda warning to the defendant during the arrest
  • Illegally looking for and seizing evidence from the home or vehicle of the defendant
  • Not obtaining a warrant
  • Getting a coerced confession
  • Breaking the chain of custody on the collected evidence


Self-defense is a criminal defense category that is mostly employed in instances of battery or assault, but sometimes even murder. When pleading self-defense, the defendant claims that they caused harm or killed the victim in order to protect their own life against the violent threats of the victim. 

Although the movies depict self-defense as an easy-to-win and straightforward criminal defense, in reality successfully claiming self-defense is a lot more difficult. The defense has to prove the existence of an incredible danger or risk that justifies the defendant using excessive or lethal force.

The category of self-defense also applies to instances where the defendant was protecting his loved ones – family or friends, and even if the defendant was protecting a stranger from being harmed by the victim. The self-defense category demands thorough and detailed preparation by your attorney, as well as a good basis for such a claim to be made.


Pleading insanity while committing a crime works in a small number of situations, and these defenses are affirmative ones, as they imply the defendant is admitting the crime but under alleviating circumstances.

When claiming insanity at the time of the crime, it is up to the criminal defense lawyer to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was the defendant’s mental illness that made them commit the crime. However, as simple as this may sound, the insanity defense is very hard to prove.

What makes the insanity defense difficult to prove?

In order to successfully claim the insanity defense, the criminal defense lawyer has to prove that the defendant was unable to differentiate right from wrong while committing the crime. What’s more, when using this defense strategy, the defendant’s admitting guilt. That’s what makes this criminal defense category not only difficult, but also very risky to use. 

Who is the best affordable, but experienced criminal attorney in San Diego?

When you’re in legal trouble, you need to think about hiring legal representation to help you win your case. However, you cannot break the bank either, and you’re looking for an affordable criminal lawyer to help you out? Vik Monder of Monder Criminal Lawyer Group is here for you.

We offer all our potential clients different payment methods to make sure they get the best possible legal representation that will not leave them in debt. Our offices are conveniently located in the vicinity of Pantoja Park. Contact us today and let us help you with your legal struggles. 

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