General Criminal Law

Using Duress as a Criminal Defense

Using Duress as a Criminal Defense

One of the most commonly used criminal defenses is the defense of duress. The term “duress” is defined as coercion through the use of force or the threat of violence. Duress is used as a criminal defense when an individual has committed a crime in order to escape physical or emotional harm or injury.
An individual who can prove that they committed a crime under duress may not be held liable for the criminal activity in which they have taken part. However, there are various factors that must be satisfied in order for a defense of duress to be adequate and effective. 
In order for an offender to successfully utilize the defense that they were under duress, they must have been exposed to the threat or the possibility of severe physical injury or death. The threat of injury that they are being subjected to must be more severe than the damage that they cause as a result of their criminal activity.
In order for the defense of duress to be acceptable, the threatened harm that the offender was experiencing must have been present at the time of the crime and there must have been no other effective way of escaping the threat at the time. Also, it is essential that the offender was not criminally responsible in the situation in which they became involved. 
Therefore, if the defendant took part in some form of illegal activity or behavior that resulted in him experiencing the threat of violence from another individual, the defense that the crime was committed under duress would not be successful.
There are various different ways that an individual may be under duress and there are a variety of crimes that an individual may commit while they are under duress. Duress is often a common defense for individuals who are responsible for violating or breaking a contract. 
If the defendant was coerced into signing a contract through the use of force or through the threat of violence, then the contract may be ruled null and void. As such, the defendant cannot be charged with a crime and will not receive legal repercussions for violating the contract.
However, duress is generally not considered to be an effective defense for murder. If a defendant can prove that they were responsible for a homicide only because they were under duress, then the charges that they face may be decreased to manslaughter, but they will still be held liable for their crimes. 
When an individual is experiencing duress they may be subjected to threats against their physical well-being, threats against their property and their belongings, or threats against their family’s health and well-being.
In most courts throughout the United States, a prisoner who successfully escapes prison may effectively use the defense of duress. A convict who was suffering from threats of severe physical injury or death in the prison in which they were serving their sentence may have believed that escaping the correctional facility was the only option that they had to maintain their health and well-being. 
If the convict turns themselves in to the proper authorities and they can prove that they had no other option and that the authorities in the prison did nothing to protect them from the immediate danger that they were facing, then the escape may not be punished. In instances such as this, the convict will be transferred to another prison to complete their sentence, but will not be given a longer or more severe punishment as a result of their escape.
A defense attorney may utilize the duress defense in order to attempt to justify a wide range of criminal activities. However, it is important to keep in mind that the defense of duress is risky because the defendant is admitting that they did take part in the crime of which they are being accused

Conflicting Purposes for Punishment

Conflicting Purposes for Punishment

The application of criminal law has many different goals and conflicting purposes. As such, criminal sentencing and incarceration have many pros and cons. The intent and the purpose of criminal sentencing also vary a great deal. Often, the function of criminal law varies from one case to the next, and each case may contain its own conflicting purposes for punishments and penalties. 
 
 
Because of these conflicting purposes, punishments often differ to a large degree from one defendant to another, even though the crime committed may be the same.
 
 
Often, penalties are disproportional with one focus on deterrence and rehabilitation. Non-utilitarian punishments, meanwhile, often focus on retribution. According to the doctrine of retribution, an individual who has committed a crime by violating criminal law must be punished for their actions. 
 
 
The sentence that they receive should fit the crime that they have committed so that justice is effectively served. If an individual is responsible for inflicting harm upon another person, then they should be punished so that they too experience the pain that they have caused another individual. In order for justice to be served an offender must be sentenced to a punishment that fits the crime, but not a penalty that is unusually cruel.
 
 
Because there are two different schools of thought regarding the purpose of punishments, there is often controversy and argument surrounding the use of disproportional punishments. Many people feel that the use of disproportional punishments are wrong because individuals are receiving punishments that are much more severe than the crimes that have been committed. Also, disproportional punishments do not maintain the severity of crimes in relation to other crimes. 
 
 
However, people who support utilitarian punishments argue that disproportional punishments are necessary for deterring individuals from committing crime. While proportional punishments may be successful for retribution, they do little to deter criminals and decrease crime rates.

What are Consecutive Life Sentences?

What are Consecutive Life Sentences?

Many people question the purpose and the necessity of handing a convict a consecutive life sentence. The term "life imprisonment" implies that a criminal will spend the rest of their life behind bars. As long as they are living, a convict who has been sentenced to life imprisonment will remain captive in a prison cell in order to keep the public safe from any harm that they may present to society. 
 
 
Therefore, a consecutive life sentence seems unnecessarily redundant. Individuals often wonder as to how a criminal can serve more then one sentence of life imprisonment when the term "life sentence" indicates that a criminal will remain in prison until they die.
 
 
 
In order to understand why judges condemn a criminal to a consecutive life sentence it is important to understand the nature of life imprisonment. A consecutive life sentence occurs when a convict is required to complete a second life sentence after the first life sentence has been concluded. This may seem absurd, but reviewing the information and statistics related to life imprisonment will help an individual to understand the necessity of a consecutive life sentence.
 
 
 
The term "life imprisonment" is often misleading and deceptive. Contrary to popular belief, a life sentence does not necessarily mean that a criminal will spend the rest of their life in jail. When a judge condemns a convict to a life sentence, he/she will also determine whether or not the prisoner will be eligible for parolewithout chance of release. 
 
 
However, in many instances, a convict will be granted the possibility of receiving parole. Some states, such as Alaska and New Mexico, prohibit a criminal from being sentenced to life without the chance of release. Therefore, it is possible for a murderer to once again walk the streets and pose a threat to individuals in the community. A consecutive life sentence will help to ensure that a dangerous criminal remains behind bars.
 
 
In most cases, life imprisonment means that a criminal must serve between fifteen to twenty years of their sentence before they will be considered for parole. If a criminal was handed a consecutive life sentence, then they will need to complete another twenty years before they are eligible for release, making it a total of forty years served before the convict will be considered for parole. Condemning a prisoner to multiple life sentences will ensure that the offenders are not considered for parole and are not released into the community.
 
 
 
In general, an offender will be handed a life sentence for each crime that they have committed that warrants life in prison. Therefore, if a perpetrator is responsible for murdering three people, then the offender may receive three life sentences. Many people believe that giving a convict multiple life sentences helps to console the victim's family members because the offender has received a punishment for each specific crime that they have committed. In this respect, multiple life sentences are often extremely beneficial and reassuring.
 
 
 
It is possible for a convict to appeal their sentence. If one of the life sentences is overturned during the appeal process, then other life sentences have been passed in order to ensure that the criminal spends a long time in prison. A consecutive life sentence also accentuates the extent and the severity of the crimes that the offender committed.

What are the Court Processes for Death Penalty?

What are the Court Processes for Death Penalty?

Capital punishment pros and cons are often the subject of heated debates. Whilst many individuals cite reasons against capital punishment, the large majority of states continue to maintain the death penalty in order to inflict punishment, protect society, and deter other criminals from taking part in similar detrimental crimes.
 
 
Due to the large number of capital punishment pros and cons, the State prosecuting a capital case must ensure that all of the necessary procedures are effectively carried out in order to guarantee that the defendant is guilty of the crime in question and that the death penalty is a warranted punishment.If the jury finds the defendant to be guilty, then the case will progress to the sentencing phase. 
 
 
During this phase of the court process a judge will weigh the capital punishment pros and cons. He or she will need to seriously consider the reasons for and against capital punishment in a particular case, considering all of the conditions and aspects of the crime in question, including the severity and brutality of the crime, the motivation, and any remorse that is being expressed by the defendant. 
 
 
Once the judge has weighed all of the capital punishment pros and cons, he or she will determine whether the defendant will be sentenced to life in prison or to death.
 
 
During the appeal process, the defendant will attempt to present the court with sufficient reasons against capital punishment. Officials will determine whether the evidence that was presented is an adequate basis for capital punishment, whether legal errors were present during the hearing, and whether the defendant's court-appointed attorney was successful in providing the defendant with adequate legal counsel. 
 
 
If the defendant can prove that any of these factors were compromised, then the appeals court will overturn the ruling and the case will go back to trial. If the appeal does not overturn the sentence, then generally only the governor of the state in which the capital trial is occurring may choose to grant the defendant clemency.
 
 
If clemency is granted, then the offender will be pardoned of capital punishment and will instead receive life in prison. If clemency is not granted, then a date will be set for the execution of the convict.
 
 
There are various capital punishment pros and cons, and because of the nature of capital punishment and the heated debate surrounding the death penalty, states must ensure that all necessary steps are carried out in order to guarantee that no irreversible mistakes are made, as well as that the defendant is granted all of their Constitutional rights.