If you've been charged with a crime and are either innocent, or feel you're facing extreme penalties, you definitely need a criminal defense attorney who can present your case in the most compelling manner possible. In general, criminal defense attorneys employ a variety of arguments that all hinge on one of two basic premises: that you are innocent of the crime, or that you committed the crime but extenuating circumstances negate any guilt you would have brought upon yourself under ordinary circumstances.

Defense Arguments Based On Innocence 

All arguments that rely on the presumption of innocence take into account the theory that, at least in the United States, defendants are innocent until proven guilty, and that prosecutors must convince a jury or judge that the accused is, in fact, guilty. Conversely, the defense is neither obligated nor required to prove to the court that the accused is innocent, because that is already presumed. Nonetheless, defense attorneys still 'reinforce' the notion of their client's innocence using facts and logic. 

One of the tools at the defense attorney's disposal is the utilization of an alibi. By demonstrating, through the sworn statements from friends or advocates, that the accused was nowhere near the scene of the crime at the time it took place, a criminal lawyer can all but guarantee his client's acquittal. Criminal defense attorneys also rely on the fact that prosecutors must demonstrate the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, meaning that jurors or a judge must be 100% certain that the individual on trial committed the crime prior to issuing a 'guilty' verdict.

Defense Arguments When The Defendant Clearly Committed The Crime

In the event it is clear that the defendant committed the crime, criminal defense attorneys often shift their focus to the motivation behind the crime. Often times, this is to illustrate how the crime was the result of necessity, as is the case in self-defense arguments regarding assault or murder charges. 

Another common defense when defendants have clearly committed the crime in question is the onset of insanity. Insanity defenses rest on the notion that the defendant was unable to distinguish right from wrong when he or she committed the act. An attorney may also attempt to demonstrate that the defendant suffers from a form of insanity where, despite having an understanding of right and wrong, he or she is literally incapable of refraining from such behavior when the opportunity lies before the individual . 

These strategies represent just a few of the many approaches a criminal defense attorney may take when working to establish your innocence.