Isn’t Pleading Not Guilty the Best Defense Strategy?

By David Hammond

When you are facing criminal charges, your mind can scramble to process what is going on and what will happen to you. You will likely want to know in as much detail as possible what your options are for proceeding and what the defense strategy would look like should your case go to trial. You may think that asserting innocence will be enough. You are innocent until proven guilty in the U.S. criminal justice system after all, right? Well, yes, this is true, but a sound defense strategy will involve more than you simply pleading to your innocence on the witness stand.

Isn’t Pleading Not Guilty the Best Defense Strategy?

There is the presumption of innocence in criminal cases. A defendant is declared innocent until and unless the prosecution can prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Merely asserting innocence, however, is a big gamble that no criminal defense attorney would risk. It has to be more than a mere assertion. The prosecution will continue to paint and try to support a case that the defendant is guilty of beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense, on the other hand, should work to bring as much supporting evidence to cast guilt into doubt and to support the assertion of innocence.

Supporting an assertion of innocence can be accomplished in a number of ways. For instance, an alibi defense can be solid grounds for supporting a claim of innocence. With an alibi defense, the defendant claims that he or she could not have possibly committed the crime in question because he or she was elsewhere and doing something else at the time the crime occurred. To support an alibi, witnesses as to the defendant’s whereabouts at the time of the crime may be presented as well as security camera footage of the defendant at a different location or something like a receipt showing that the defendant was at a different location at the time the crime was committed.

In addition to supporting a claim of innocence through alibi evidence, the defense team is often best served by pursuing ways to undermine the strength of the prosecution. Casting doubt on the prosecution’s claims and undermining the strength of any evidence the prosecution may present in the case can go to great lengths in undermining the prosecution’s pursuit of proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Undermining the prosecution’s case can be accomplished through things such as the presentation of witnesses and expert witnesses that present a different perspective than those produced by the prosecution’s witnesses. It can also be accomplished when cross-examining a witness and undermining the witness’s credibility. Additionally, there are ways to seek exclusion of evidence the prosecution wishes to use in its case. In criminal cases, constitutional violations made by law enforcement officers against the defendant can lead to significant pieces of evidence being declared inadmissible at trial.

Syracuse Criminal Defense Attorneys

Have you been charged with a crime? There is too much at stake to delay. Talk to the dedicated criminal defense team at CDH Law. Contact us today.

About the Author
David is a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer with over a decade of experience fighting for service members and their families. He served nine years and two combat tours as an active duty US Army officer, then joined the Reserves and settled down in Syracuse to be near family. Now representing people across Central New York charged with serious felonies, misdemeanors, DWIs, and traffic offenses, he puts the same level of commitment into his civilian law practice. If you have any questions regarding this article, you can contact David here.