LegalYou: Affirmative Defenses

When you’re walking into court to defend yourself, it can sometimes feel like you versus the world.

But no matter what you anxiously tell yourself in the mirror that morning, it’s not true. As a defendant, you have a variety of approaches to take in response to the plaintiff’s– the accuser’s claim.

And LegalYou realizes the more knowledge you have of your choices, the better off you’re going to be. It’s like going into battle with an entire arsenal, as opposed to, you know, just a slingshot. One way to go, if you’re fighting an accusation, is to use what’s known as an affirmative defense.

An affirmative defense is when you claim a legal excuse for your actions. Basically, it’s an explanation for the defendant’s conduct that makes the accuser’s argument irrelevant, but an excuse, that of course, you have to prove.

Now there are many different types of affirmative defenses in all types of cases, literally dozens, including ones with names such as fraud in the inducement, cardinal change, and something called estoppel, which sounds more like a European pastry than a legal device. But some of the more familiar affirmative defenses in criminal cases are things like self defense or the insanity plea. Let’s take fraud in the inducement as an example.

Say you signed a contract and didn’t pay. But initially, you were tricked into signing a contract. If you are able to show in court that you were tricked, then the signed contract doesn’t matter. But remember that claiming an affirmative defense means that you are required to bring the believable evidence of what you say. The lawyers call this having the burden of proof. So it’s important to use affirmative defenses strategically. Getting the right information and doing proper research will prepare you for that, and put you in the best position to defend yourself.

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