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What are some legal defenses against murder?

On Behalf of | Aug 16, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Any individual facing charges of murder is at risk of serious time behind bars. A guilty verdict means a devastating loss of freedom.

Defendants have an inherent interest in presenting their innocence at trial. The argument someone facing a murder charge chooses could make a critical difference.


Protecting oneself from harm is the most common argument. Juries must see reasonable evidence of the situation presenting physical danger. Insults are not enough to justify killing someone. The accused must also use a proportional level of force.

In particular states, there is a duty to retreat when possible. Homicide must be a last resort. Regions differ about what efforts are necessary before attacking. That said, no state requires someone to seek escape when an intruder breaks into a home.

Defending others

When someone other than a defendant faces the threat of harm, homicide may be justifiable. It is permissible to rescue an innocent victim using violence.

Crime prevention

Some states have statutes allowing citizens to use deadly force if it prevents a felony. Examples of crimes where someone may intervene include arson and kidnapping.


Insanity arguments must prove the defendant lacks the cognitive ability to grasp reality. Someone believing phantoms are present would qualify under this definition. An attorney might suggest the accused cannot comprehend the moral dimensions at play.

Facing a murder charge is a high-stakes scenario. The legal defense one selects is not a casual concern. A thorough understanding of every rationale is necessary for picking the best.