What Are Affirmative Defenses in Upstate New York?

When you are facing criminal charges in Rochester or elsewhere in Upstate New York, you should begin working with a Rochester criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to start strategizing about the best defense to use in your case. It is important to understand that there are many different types of defense strategies, and the specific way in which you defend against the charges you are facing will depend in part on the crime that you are accused of committing as well as the particular facts surrounding your arrest. When you are learning more about various defense strategies, you may come across information about affirmative defenses. What is an affirmative defense, and is it appropriate for your case? Our firm can explain in more detail.

Defining an Affirmative Defense

State laws define affirmative defenses, or those defense strategies that fit within this category, in different ways. According to the Cornell Legal Information Institute, the general definition of an affirmative defense is as follows:

“This is a defense in which the defendant introduces evidence, which, if found to be credible, will negate criminal liability or civil liability, even if it is proven that the defendant committed the alleged acts. Self-defense, entrapment, insanity, necessity, and respondeat superior are some examples of affirmative defenses.”

In using an affirmative defense in a criminal case, the defendant is often admitting that they engaged in a particular act or behavior that is part of the criminal offense, but arguing that there is a reason for that act or behavior that negates criminal liability.

Common Types of Affirmative Defenses Under New York Law

Justification can be an affirmative defense for certain criminal charges in New York, but there are many other types of affirmative defenses that you should know about. Beyond a justification like self-defense, under New York Penal Article 40, most other defense strategies that fall within the definition of an affirmative defense are known as “other defenses involving lack of culpability.” Those affirmative defenses are expressly defined as follows:

  • Duress, for which the defendant must show that they were coerced or threatened due to the imminent use of force;
  • Entrapment, for which the defendant must have been induced to commit an offense;
  • Renunciation, for which the defendant must show that they completely withdrew from involvement in a criminal activity and attempted to stop the criminal activity from going forward; and
  • Mental disease or defect, for which the defendant must show that they lacked capacity to commit the crime due to a mental disease or defect.

To determine the best defense strategy for your case, you should always seek advice from a Rochester criminal defense attorney who can tailor a strategy to the elements of the crime and the circumstances around your arrest.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney in Rochester

Do you need assistance defending against criminal charges you are facing? Should you rely on an affirmative defense? While an affirmative defense could be useful in your case, it is still extremely important to seek advice from an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Rochester who can assess your case and develop a strong defense strategy tailored to the facts of your case. Contact King Law for assistance.


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