Thursday, October 4, 2012

Minnesota Criminal Defenses (Explained)

Believe it or not, if you've been charged with an offense, you (or your experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney) does not have to prove you're innocent --- but you do need a good defense.  See, to convict a criminal defendant, the government must prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. As part of this process, the defendant is given an opportunity to present a defense. There are many types of defenses, here are some of the most common ones.

Didn't Do It

This is the most common defense and often involves the claim that the accused did not commit the act in question.

Reasonable Doubt

The prosecutor must convince the judge or jury hearing the case that the defendant is guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt." This standard is very hard to meet. As a practical matter, the high burden of proof in criminal cases means that judges and jurors are supposed to resolve all doubts about the meaning of the evidence in favor of the defendant. With such a high standard imposed on the prosecutor, a defendant's most common defense is often to argue that there is in fact reasonable doubt.


An alibi defense consists of evidence that a defendant was somewhere other than the scene of the crime at the time it was committed. For example, assume that Freddie is accused of committing a burglary on Elm Street at midnight on Friday, September 13. Freddie's alibi defense might consist of testimony that at the time of the burglary, Freddie was watching Casablanca at the Maple Street Cinema.


Self-defense is a defense commonly asserted by someone charged with a crime like assault.  Here, the defendant admits that he did in fact commit the crime, but claims that it was justified by the other person's threatening actions. The core issues in most self-defense cases are:

  • Who was the aggressor?
  • Was the defendant's belief that self-defense was necessary a reasonable one?
  • If so, was the force used by the defendant also reasonable?

Self-defense is rooted in the belief that people should be allowed to protect themselves from physical harm. This means that a person does not have to wait until he or she is actually struck to act in self-defense. If a reasonable person in the same circumstances would think that he or she is about to be physically attacked, that person has the right to strike first and prevent the attack. However, an act of self-defense cannot use more force than is reasonable -- someone who uses too much force may be guilty of a crime.

The best defense is a good offense.  If you're looking for help with a criminal case --- call the Rolloff Law Office and set up a FREE consultation.  There is more to every offense than whether someone did or didn't do something.  Learn your options.  Call: (612) 234-1165.