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What defense strategies are used in Connecticut murder cases?


Capital punishment was abandoned in Connecticut in 2012. An intentional killing was reclassified as a class A felony rather than a capital crime and was no longer punishable by death. Nevertheless, murder charges are very serious allegations, even without the threat of death.

Legal defense strategies exist for Willimantic County defendants who deny or admit killing someone else. An affirmative defense includes an admission a homicide took place, but disputes the prosecution's assertions the killing qualified as murder. The prosecution's evidence must satisfy every provision of the state murder law, to show guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Defendants are not responsible for proving innocence. Prosecutors carry the burden of proof. However, a defense attorney must be prepared to support a defendant's claim that a homicide was justified, accidental or caused by an "extreme emotional disturbance" or mental health problem; an insanity defense is possible.

In some cases, a defendant will say he or she was not the killer. An alibi can serve to back that statement. In addition, a criminal defense attorney could argue no clear evidence exists to link the defendant with the crime.

Depending upon case circumstances, the defense could state the homicide occurred in self-defense or the defense of someone else. Self-defense is considered a reasonable response to a threat of serious harm or death. To be justified, the defendant's use of force to combat the threat must be reasonable.

Some states do not permit the use of deadly force in self-defense unless a defendant first attempts to withdraw from a perceived attacker. Laws also define when retreating is necessary, if at all, and where deadly force is permissible. Some rules limit certain actions to a victim's property.

Criminal defense attorneys are aware a defendant may never face a challenge more serious than a murder charge. A formidable defense is essential. The long-term consequences of a conviction can be ruinous.

Source: FIndLaw, "First Degree Murder Defenses" accessed Feb. 19, 2015