What Is An Affirmative Defense?
Were you arrested and charged with a criminal offense in Florida? You are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof is on the prosecution. They are required to present evidence that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed all elements of the offense.
An affirmative defense is a specialized type of defense in a criminal case that effectively shifts that burden. Nonetheless, it is the right approach in some situations. Here, our Orlando criminal defense attorneys provide an overview of the key things that you know about affirmative defenses.
Know the Legal Defense of an Affirmative Defense
As well stated by the Legal Information Institute, an affirmative defense is a type of proactive legal defense that a defendant may be able to raise to avoid liability for a crime. The key thing to understand about an affirmative defense is that it involves the defendant acknowledging that they committed at least some of the elements of the crime. However, an affirmative defense asserts that the defendant was justified in doing so and, therefore, liability is negated.
Understanding an Affirmative Defense through an Example: Self-Defense
Self-defense is one of the most common affirmative defenses in criminal law. It is used when a defendant is charged with a crime for using force against another person, but claims that their actions were necessary to protect themselves from harm. To successfully raise a defense of self-defense in Florida, the defendant must prove that they had a reasonable belief that they were in imminent danger of physical harm and that the force used was necessary to prevent that harm.
As an example, imagine that a person was assaulted by a stranger while walking home in Orlando. They respond by defending themselves, causing a serious injury to the attacker. The prosecution may have evidence that a person caused serious bodily injury through the use of physical force. The affirmative defense of self-defense would effectively acknowledge that the incident occurred, but would deny any criminal liability on grounds that the physical force was justified under the law.
A Defendant Raising an Affirmative Defense has the Burden of Proof
When a defendant raises an affirmative defense, they have the burden of proof. This means that they must present sufficient evidence to support their claim. This is different from the prosecution’s burden of proof, which requires them to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, where an affirmative defense is raised, the burden of proof shifts from the prosecution to the defendant—at least in regards to that defense. The defendant must prove that their affirmative defense is valid. These are complicated cases. It is imperative that any person seeking to raise an affirmative defense has an experienced Florida defense attorney on their side.
Consult With an Orlando, FL Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
At The Baez Law Firm, our Orlando criminal defense attorneys provide aggressive, comprehensive legal guidance and support to our clients. If you have any specific questions or concerns about raising an affirmative defense in your case, we are more than ready to help. Contact us today for a confidential, no obligation consultation. We provide criminal defense representation in Orlando, Orange County, and throughout all of Central Florida and South Florida.