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What Are Some Common Criminal Defense Strategies?

Common Criminal Defense Tactics

There are four main criminal defense strategies—constitutional violations, innocence, insanity, and self-defense, which we will discuss in further detail below. Not every defense strategy will be applicable to your case or crime, and you should consult with an experienced attorney to create the best strategy for your case. It is important to note that your attorney can only create a solid defense strategy if you are honest with them and collaborate with them throughout the process.

Constitutional Violations

Regardless of your innocence or guilt, you are entitled to protections afforded to you by the Constitution. A common defense tactic is to question whether your constitutional rights were violated or not. Specifically, your attorney may investigate the police’s conduct throughout the investigation. If they coerced a confession, intimidated a witness, used unnecessary force, mishandled evidence, lacked probable cause, lied or exaggerated in their police report, your attorney can work to get your case or certain evidence dismissed.

Crimes have a statute of limitations, which is the window of time that charges can be brought forward against a defendant. Arguing that the statute of limitations has elapsed is a procedural defense.


Other criminal defense strategies that can be employed include tactics that involve proving your innocence. These tactics include arguing:

  • Unconsciousness. It can be argued that you were not fully conscious when the crime was committed as you were sleepwalking/driving, involuntarily under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or delirious.
  • Mistaken identity. If you have a similar physical description to that of the actual perpetrator of the crime, you may be mistakenly identified as the offender.
  • Inability to prove criminal elements. The prosecution’s job is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed, and they must prove the elements of a crime. The defense can poke holes in the prosecution’s case by pointing out flaws in their arguments or pointing out their inability to prove certain elements of a crime. For instance, with theft crimes, they must prove that a person knowingly obtained or exerted control over property or services that belong to another person without the rightful owner’s consent or by using deception, threats, or intimidation. In your defense, your attorney can argue that they can’t prove that you took something with full knowledge of your actions.
  • False accusation. To get revenge or because of jealousy or selfishness, someone may falsely accuse a defendant of having committed a crime.
  • Alibi evidence. You and your attorney may submit evidence that aims to establish you have an alibi. From witness testimony to GPS records, photographs, and video footage, evidence can be submitted to strengthen your claim that you couldn’t have committed the crime as you were elsewhere.
  • Abandonment. You can argue that while you did intend to commit or participate in a crime, you changed your mind.


Under Ohio Revised Code § 2945.40, a person can plead insanity if they can prove that they did not understand the extent of their actions because of a diagnosed mental illness or defect. It is important to note that an insanity defense is a plea and does not get your charges dismissed. If you plead insanity, you will be entering a guilty plea.


A popular defense strategy is arguing and proving that you feared that you or those around you were in danger of being killed or suffering bodily harm/injuries. However, the actions you took to defend yourself should be comparable to the danger or harm that you feared.

Need Help Developing a Case Strategy? Contact Our Team Today!

At Bridges, Jillisky, Weller & Gullifer, LLC, our attorneys have decades of combined legal experience, and we are equipped to help our clients develop a personalized legal strategy that exposes the flaws in the prosecution’s case or creates doubts about the criminal elements that the prosecution is seeking to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Our firm handles a wide variety of criminal cases, including:

To schedule a consultation, contact us online or at (937) 403-9033 today. We look forward to hearing from you and possibly working with you.