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Ohio Affirmative Defenses in Criminal Law

A defendant in a criminal case in Medina, Wooster and North Canton has the right to rely upon the presumption of innocence that the United States Constitution and Ohio statutory law affords to each individual against of committing a crime. The burden is on the prosecution to prove each element of the offense necessary to establish the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt.

Normally, the burden of proof in a criminal case remains on the prosecution. A defendant is not required to offer written or testimonial evidence because of the presumption of innocence. If the defendant in Medina, Wooster and North Canton elects to assert an affirmative defense, Ohio Revised Code section 2901.05 shifts the burden of proof onto the defendant to prove it by a preponderance of the evidence.

Affirmative Defenses

An argument can be made that a not guilty plea at an arraignment could be interpreted as a defense. The plea is a denial of the allegations raised in the formal criminal charges filed by prosecutors and sets the process in motion that will eventually end in a trial, dismissal or a plea of guilty; however, it does not raise new issues or special issues the existence of which would only be known to the defendant as do affirmative defenses.

Ohio defines affirmative defenses as those expressly designated as such by statute, such as self-defense, or those defenses involving an excuse or justification. Common affirmative defenses in addition to self-defense include insanity, battered woman syndrome and entrapment.

Self-Defense

An individual using deadly force in Medina, Wooster and North Canton that kills or injures another person would usually be charged with committing a crime, but self-defense is an affirmative defense that an accused person might raise in a criminal prosecution. Under Ohio Revised Code section 2901.05, the use of deadly force in defense of a dwelling in which the defendant resides or is visiting as a guest is justified against someone who unlawfully enters it. This provision of the law also applies to a vehicle, motorized or not, in which the person using the deadly force is an occupant.

The statute is a departure from the traditional treatment of self-defense that is still the law in some states. Under that interpretation of self-defense, the occupant of a dwelling may only use deadly defensive force against an intruder who first threatens the occupant with deadly force. Some states require that the occupant first retreat before using deadly force.

The law in Medina, Wooster and North Canton creates a rebuttable presumption that someone unlawfully entering the home of another person is doing so with the intention of doing harm to the occupants. Because it is a rebuttable presumption, prosecutors have the opportunity to offer evidence to overcome it by a preponderance of the evidence.

Insanity Defense

As with other affirmative defenses, the insanity defense must be raised and proven by the defendant in a criminal case. Insanity might be a defense if an individual can prove that a severe mental disease or defect prevented the person from comprehending the wrongfulness of the acts. A person who successfully pleads and proves insanity as a defense will be found not guilty by reason of insanity in Medina, Wooster and North Canton.

Battered Woman Syndrome

The affirmative defense of battered woman syndrome is one that is recognized in Medina, Wooster and North Canton when the person asserting the defense is charged the use of force in committing a crime. The defense allows the defendant to offer expert testimony at trial to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant’s actions were the result of a fear of imminent death or bodily harm brought on by battered woman syndrome.

Entrapment

When government officials induce someone to commit a crime that the person was not predisposed to commit, the affirmative defense of entrapment might be available to the defendant in a criminal prosecution. Entrapment is more than proving that government agents made it easier for a crime to be committed.

For example, an undercover police officer offering to purchase drugs from a defendant in Medina, Wooster and North Canton is an example of a government agent merely offering the opportunity for a person to commit a criminal act, but it would probably not be entrapment. The police must overburden the person’s will to not commit the act. Entrapment is a very difficult defense to any potential crime.

The Defense Strategy

Prosecutors in Medina, Wooster and North Canton must convince jurors in a criminal trial of the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. Affirmative defenses, as part of an overall defense strategy developed in consultation with a criminal defense attorney, can be an effective method for challenging the ability of prosecutors to convince jurors of the truth of the charges.

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