In the American criminal justice system, defendants are afforded a presumption of innocence, and this requires prosecutors to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. We have all heard the phrase “innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.” This is entirely true, and even though the burden is placed on proof of guilt, defendants are generally required to prove an affirmative defense. It is essential to know that failure to establish an affirmative defense does not automatically mean the defendant is guilty. The prosecutor still needs to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt regardless of the outcome on an affirmative defense. Self-defense is an example of a justification affirmative defense and is used in many cases such as murder and domestic battery. Claiming self-defense means that you are justifying the force applied on the other party was necessary to protect yourself from an attempted injury.
Another example is known as criminal insanity, and this is known as an excuse affirmative defense. This is where the defendant claims a mental defect or disease that, as understood in most states, makes it impossible for a person to know what he or she is doing or to know that what they are doing is wrong. Depending on the situation, these defensives may relieve the person from their criminal responsibility.
I believe this exception is unreasonable. My opinion merely comes from the fact that to invoke a duress defense the defendant must typically satisfy three elements. First, they must face “an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury. Second, they must possess “a well-grounded fear that the threat will be carried out. Third, the defendant must enjoy no reasonable opportunity to escape the threatened harm (Shankland, 2009). I believe if the situation meets those three criteria’s, human survival instinct steps in and unfortunately bad things happen sometimes.
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