We’ve all seen movies where the defendant claims some insane defense to murder and gets off. In real life, it doesn’t work like this. If you kill someone, odds are, you’re going to jail. You’re probably going to jail for life. There are some defenses to murder. For example, in San Diego you may claim any of the following:
- Mistaken identity
- No proof
- Heat of passion
- Accidental killing
Most people can understand why these would be defenses to murder or manslaughter. If you were defending your life or the life of another, you shouldn’t get convicted of murder. Or, if you’re legally insane, you may belong in a mental institution rather than prison.
Over the years, however, there have been some really crazy defenses to murder that have worked. It’s interesting to take a look at these. Although the odds of you being able to use one of these defenses are slim, there are elements of each that may apply to your case.
If you’ve been charged with murder or manslaughter in California, you need to call a San Diego criminal defense lawyer.
The Twinkie Defense
One of the most infamous murder cases was the Dan White case in 1978. White killed Harvey Milk and May Moscone in San Francisco. He was facing the death penalty. His attorney argued that he was severely depressed in the days and months leading up to the murder. He claimed that White was eating a ton of Twinkies in the days preceding the murder.
White’s attorneys managed to convince a jury that the sugar in the cake led to White’s having a diminished capacity at the time of the murders. The jury bought the defense and only sentenced Dan White to 8 years in prison as opposed to the death penalty.
Diminished capacity is a legal defense to murder in California. In most cases, in order to prove diminished capacity, you have to show that the defendant wasn’t able to have the required mental state for the crime of murder. It’s different from an insanity plea. In an insanity plea, the defendant will be found not guilty. With the defense of diminished capacity, you’ll still be found guilty of the crime but your sentence will be lighter.
The Matrix Defense
Most people have seen or heard of the movie “The Matrix.” It was a movie about a world in which people lived in a state of alternate reality. Things that happened in the matrix didn’t happen in the real world.
Back in 2002, a woman in Ohio shot and killed her landlady. Her lawyer claimed that his client believed she was living in the matrix and that the landlady was part of a conspiracy to kill her. He argued that his client was not guilty by reason of insanity. She only thought she was killing the landlady because the landlady would have killed her if she hadn’t.
The jury bought this argument and actually found the woman not guilty by reason of insanity. Unlike Dan White, this defendant wasn’t found guilty at all. This is because her defense was not diminished capacity but not guilty by reason of insanity.
Not Guilty Due to Affluenza
We’ve heard of influenza. This is where the word “flu” originally came from. But, have you ever heard of affluenza? No – neither have most people. However, for Ethan Couch, a defendant in Texas, affluenza was an alleged disease that caused him to kill four different people.
Ethan Couch was charged with murder in Texas. His lawyers argued that he was not guilty due to an illness called affluenza. They claimed that Couch was suffering from a condition that isn’t recognized by doctors or the medical community.
Affluenza was a disease suffered by people who were raised by very affluent people as a child. His attorneys claimed that Couch was raised with so much money that he was taught that money bought you certain privileges. He claimed that killing people was one of these privileges.
The jury actually found Couch guilty but, because of his “illness”, only sentenced him to two (2) years in prison. Although we don’t think affluenza will get you off for murder in San Diego, a legitimate mental disease may.
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer in San Diego Today
If you’ve been charged with murder or manslaughter in California, you need to call a San Diego criminal lawyer today. You’re going to be facing some serious consequences. You want an experienced lawyer by your side to provide the best defense possible.
Lastly, we don’t suggest that you rely on the Twinkie defense or claim you’re living in the Matrix. However, there may be a legitimate defense to your actions. Only an experienced criminal defense lawyer knows what these defenses are.