Jury instructions are read to the jury at the end of trial and are a set of directions for the jury to follow. These instructions outline how the jury should evaluate the evidence that was presented. You can read more about jury instructions in criminal cases here. In addition, these instructions outline potential defenses available that should also be evaluated by the jury in reaching their decision.
Insanity: A person can be considered insane when he or she has a mental infirmity, disease, or defect and, because of this condition, they did not know what they were doing or its consequences. A person can also be considered insane when, although he or she knew what they were doing and its consequences, they did not know it was wrong. Read more about the insanity defense here.
Insanity – Hallucinations: A person can also be considered insane when he or she has a mental infirmity, disease, or defect and, because of this condition, this person had hallucinations or delusions which caused them to believe things that are not true or real.
Psychotropic medication: Psychotropic medication is any drug affecting the mind, behavior, intellectual functions, perception, mood, or emotions. This includes anti-psychotic, anti-depressant, anti-manic, and anti-anxiety drugs. This defense is given to the jury when it should not allow the defendant’s present condition in court or any apparent side effect from medication to affect deliberations.
Involuntary Intoxication: An involuntary intoxication defense can be asserted when the defendant was involuntarily intoxicated to the point that he or she could not form the requisite intent for the crime. This defense applies in two situations. First, when a person lawfully takes a prescribed medication and, as a result of the medication as prescribed, was so intoxicated that he or she could not form the required intent at the time or the offense. Second, the person unknowingly ingested an intoxicating substance because of force, fraud, duress, or trickery and, as a result, was so intoxicated that he or she could not form the requisite intent at the time of the offense. You can read more about involuntary intoxication here.
Involuntary Intoxication Resulting in Insanity: This defense is given when the defendant was involuntarily intoxicated to the point of insanity at the time that the crime was allegedly committed. This applies in two situations. First, when the defendant was lawfully prescribed a substance by a practitioner and used it as prescribed and, as a result of taking the substance, the defendant did not know what he or she was doing or its consequences. Second, the defendant unknowingly ingested an intoxicating substance and, as a result of consuming it, the defendant did not know what he or she was doing or knew what he or she was doing but did not know it was wrong. This instruction cannot be given if the defendant knew that what he or she was doing violated societal standards or was against the law.
Justifiable use or Threatened Use of Deadly Force: The use or threatened use of deadly force is justifiable if the defendant reasonably believed that the force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself while resisting another’s attempt to murder him or her; any attempt to commit an applicable felony upon him or her; or any attempt to commit an applicable felony upon or in any dwelling in which he or she was present. Further, the use of deadly force is justified if he or she reasonably believed that such force or threatened force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or another. You can read more about deadly force and stand your ground law here.
Justifiable Use or Threatened Use of Non-Deadly Force: The use of non-deadly force can be a defense to a crime if the actions of the defendant constituted a justifiable use or threatened use of non-deadly force. The defendant can be justified in using or threatening to use non-deadly force against the victim if the defendant reasonably believed that such conduct was necessary to defend himself or herself against the victim’s imminent use of unlawful force.
Justifiable Use of Force by Law Enforcement Officer: A law enforcement officer does not need to retreat from or stop efforts to make a lawful arrest because of resistance or threatened resistance. An officer is justified in using any force that he or she deems reasonably necessary to defend himself or herself from another from bodily harm while making an arrest. Force is also justifiable when used to retake a felon who escaped or in arresting a felon who is fleeing.
Entrapment: The entrapment defense requires five elements to be met:
The defendant was induced or encouraged to engage in conduct constituting a crime for the purposes of obtaining evidence of the commission of a crime; and
the defendant engaged in such conduct as a direct result of the inducement or encouragement; and
the person who induced or encouraged the defendant was a law enforcement officer or a person engaged in cooperating with or acting as an agent of a law enforcement officer; and
the person who induced or encouraged the defendant employed methods of persuasion which created substantial risk that the crime would be committed by a person other than the one who was ready to commit it; and
the defendant was not a person who was ready to commit the time.
Duress or Necessity: Duress or necessity can be a defense if six elements are met:
The defendant reasonably believed a danger or emergency existed which was not intentionally caused by himself or herself; and
the danger or emergency threatened significant harm to the defendant or a third person; and
the threatened harm must have been imminent or impending; and
the crime must have been committed out of duress or necessity to avoid the danger or emergency; and
the harm that the defendant avoided must outweigh the harm caused by committing the crime.
Independent Act: This defense can be asserted when a person other than the defendant commits or attempts to commit a crime which the defendant did not intend to occur and did not participate in, and which was not a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the common design or unlawful act contemplated by the defendant.
Temporary Possession of a Controlled Substance for Legal Disposal: This can be asserted as an affirmative defense when a person briefly possessed a controlled substance for the sole purpose of legal disposal. The following elements must be met to assert this defense:
The defendant possessed the controlled substance;
the defendant acquired the controlled substance without unlawful intent;
the possession of the controlled substance was brief, and the defendant sought to dispose of the controlled substance without delay; and
the temporary possession was solely for the purpose of legal disposal.
Controlled Substance was Lawfully Obtained from a Practitioner of Pursuant to a Valid Prescription: This defense can be asserted when the defendant lawfully obtained a controlled substance from a practitioner or pursuant to a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of his or her professional practice.
Attorney Don Pumphrey, Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney. Don has achieved over 100 not guilty verdicts at trial and over 2,000 dismissals.