Facing criminal charges is a scary proposition, especially when you discover that your attorney isn't Perry Mason. Television and movie courtroom dramas may seem reasonable, but in the real world, you're not likely to hear astonishing admissions of guilt, crying and screaming testimony, or shocking dismissals of all charges. If you're preparing to go to court, it's important to know that it's not likely to go anything like what you've seen on TV and that your attorney isn't going to present a case that is likely to win an Oscar. Here are some defense strategies that may work in the movies, but probably won't work for you.
It might be nice to think you could rob a bank or dispatch the person who hurt you in some way and then claim you were temporarily insane, but in real life, insanity pleas work less than one percent of the time.
To win based on temporary insanity, you must prove that you really were insane in the moment you committed the crime. The legal definition of insanity stipulates that the individual must have no sense of right and wrong.
This defense requires in-depth examinations by doctors. Usually, you'll be interviewed by an expert chosen by your lawyer and an expert chosen by the state. If you weren't really insane when you committed the crime, it's not likely that you're going to convince the experts that you were.
Amnesia is a common defense in television and movie courtrooms, but it also has applications in real-world cases. It is estimated than almost half of all people charged with violent crimes like homicide claim they have amnesia.
While amnesia may be a reasonable defense in the land of make-believe, in United States history, no defendant has ever successfully argued innocence based solely on a claim of amnesia. In fact, most courts are so skeptical of the claim that the term "malingered amnesia" has been coined to describe those who fake the condition to avoid responsibility for their crime.
If you plan to claim amnesia, be aware that doctors have developed a test to find out if you're lying. Because such a great percentage of defendants claim amnesia, the chances of faking it successfully are fairly low.
The cases of twins separated at birth on the silver screen are astonishingly high. As it turns out, most people only discover they have a twin when that twin has committed a crime they are being blamed for – at least in the movies.
Evil twins are typically identical, selecting only a different style and color scheme in their wardrobe. They tend to possess all the negative characteristics of their innocent sibling. They usually are not caught until the very last moment when they are hauled into the courtroom before the judge.
In real life, the "evil twin" defense strategy translates to multiple personality disorder. This psychiatric condition is a dissociative disorder that causes the individual to have multiple, separate personalities and is often caused by significant trauma during childhood.
Multiple personality disorder (MPD) is used a defense because the individual claims that they have no memory and no motive to commit the crime and that another of their distinctive personalities was the one in control.
While MPD can be used successfully, there is little concrete evidence available to prove the claim and it is not used often.
Television and movie courtrooms are full of drama and, in most cases, justice prevails. In reality, justice is subject to the perception of human beings. When considering a defense, it may be tempting to select a dramatic defense strategy, but your best bet is to rely on the recommendation of your criminal attorney. You may also want to find an attorney who never watched Perry Mason and who isn't a fan of television shows about law and order. Someone with a realistic point of view will serve you better than someone who wants to be the star of their own courtroom drama.