Common Defenses for a Criminal Lawyer

Facing criminal charges is a daunting experience. The public stigma of the allegations alone is harrowing, and there are a lot of ways for things to quickly go wrong – particularly if you are navigating the legal system alone. However, understanding the common defenses available – along with the legal experts employing these defenses – can lead to a far more calming, even empowering scenario.

The criminal defense lawyers at Combs Waterkotte use a variety of defenses and defense strategies to protect the rights and futures of our clients. We have over 40 years of combined experience working criminal cases in St. Louis and throughout Missouri, and getting successful outcomes.

Call our criminal lawyer legal team as soon as possible at (314) 900-HELP or contact us online for a free, confidential consultation where we can discuss the specifics of your case and provide legal guidance regarding your course of action. Here, we’ll go over some of the most common defenses our attorneys use in criminal cases, shedding some light on the legal tactics that may be used to secure a favorable outcome.

Criminal Lawyer at Combs Waterkotte: Common Defenses in Criminal Cases

Throughout our attorneys’ decades of experience, they’ve seen just about every type of criminal case. As each specific case is unique, so too is the defense. The following are some of the most common criminal defenses:

Presumption of Innocence

Probably the most common defense in a criminal case, as it is a cardinal principle of the justice system. You, along with every individual accused of a crime, are presumed to be innocent unless and until your guilt is established beyond a reasonable doubt. The Combs Waterkotte criminal defense lawyers will reinforce this standard throughout the lifespan of your case.

Self-Defense and Defense of Others

Courts have recognized that all individuals have the right to protect themselves and others from harm and may even use reasonable force to do so. However, the threat faced must have been imminent such that it put you, or the individual(s) you were defending, in fear of immediate harm.


Duress can serve as a defense if you committed a crime because you were facing the threat or use of physical force. We must establish that a reasonable person in your position also would have committed the crime. Similar to self-defense – due to the duress defense arising from a threat of imminent death or serious bodily injury – it requires that we prove you had a reasonable fear the threat would be carried out. Also, duress requires us to show that you had no alternative to committing the crime.


This type of defense is brought on the basis that you only committed a crime because of harassment or coercion by a government official. With this coercion, you wouldn’t have committed the crime. This can be difficult to assert because, as an affirmative defense, we would have the burden of establishing that entrapment occurred, that the idea for the crime was solely introduced by the government official.

Mistaken Identity

This defense is twofold. Asserting this, we can question both the memory of the witness (false memory) and the perception of the witness (poor eyesight). In establishing even the thought of either or both, we create reasonable doubt about whether the witness actually saw what they claim to have seen, or recalls having seen.


This defense, applicable in very limited circumstances, is rooted in the basis that you did not understand the nature of your actions or know what you were doing, due to intoxication. Depending on the level of intent required by the criminal charge, this defense could, at the very least, reduce culpability.


If you’ve committed a criminal act during an emergency situation in order to prevent an even greater harm from happening, the defense of necessity may apply. It’s application though, is limited by:

  • You must have reasonably believed that there was an actual and specific threat that required immediate action
  • You must have had no realistic alternative to completing the crime
  • The harm caused by the crime must not be greater than the harm avoided
  • You did not yourself contribute to cause the threat


In certain circumstances, an apparent crime may have been committed, but the victim actually consented to act, and thus the act was not a crime. One example would be physical contact sports like boxing, rugby, hockey, or football. Athletes are deemed to have consented to the physical contact that is an essential element of their sport. Some crimes for which consent may be a defense include those that result in bodily harm, such as assault and battery. In order to establish this defense, we must present the following elements of consent to bodily harm:

  • There was no possibility of serious bodily injury
  • The harm was reasonably foreseeable and the risk reasonably accepted
  • The individual received a benefit that justified the consent

Common Defenses for a Criminal Lawyer | Criminal Defense Attorney | Combs Waterkotte

Reach Out to the Criminal Lawyers at Combs Waterkotte Today

Navigating a criminal case requires a nuanced understanding of the available defenses. From challenging evidence to asserting legal rights, you have various avenues to explore with the help of a skilled criminal lawyer from Combs Waterkotte.

Call us now at (314) 900-HELP or contact us online for a free, no-obligation case review with one of our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys.