Monday, August 26, 2013

Criminal Defendant is Entitled to Raise any Reasonable Defense; Including, "I am a Bad Person."

In limited circumstances, a criminal defendant may seek to avoid a conviction by introducing evidence of his or her good character.  The circumstances under which such evidence may be used are limited, but the defense is essentially, "I couldn't have committed that crime because everyone knows that I am a good person."  Sometimes, a defendant is able to avoid conviction, not by being a good person, but by being bad. "I couldn't have robbed that bank because while the bank was being robbed I was robbing a liquor store." But in an ironic twist on a character defense, a Texas teacher accused of improperly touching a seven year old African American student has raised the defense, "I couldn't have done that because I am a racist and don't like to touch Black people."  Will the prosecution now have to put witnesses on the stand to testify to the defendant's character for being tolerant?

Reality is truly stranger than fiction.

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