If the police in Alaska arrest someone, resulting in criminal charges being filed, a prosecutor must convince the court or jury that the defendant is guilty by a measure of proof known as “beyond a reasonable doubt.” American jurisprudence requires that every defendant must be provided the opportunity to present a criminal defense in court. In certain circumstances, this may mean raising an affirmative defense.
A prosecutor must prove that a defendant did what he or she is accused of doing – like assaulting someone, for instance. An affirmative defense is initiated when a defendant raises a separate issue as part of his or her defense. In the example of an assault, a defendant would be issuing an affirmative defense if he or she were to tell the court that the victim was actually the initial attacker and he or she (the defendant) acted out of self-defense.
A defendant has the burden of proving an affirmative defense
A defendant cannot simply inform the court or jury that he or she acted in self-defense against an attacker, namely, the person that he or she is charged with assaulting. Instead, an affirmative defense must offer proof to meet a certain evidentiary standard that self-defense was necessary and occurred. Every state has its own requirements regarding the burden of proof relevant to an affirmative defense.
Seek defense counsel before heading to court
Legal terms, such as ”affirmative defense” or ”evidentiary standard” are difficult for those with no legal background. This is why seeking legal guidance before criminal proceedings is always best. An experienced Alaska criminal defense attorney can clarify state laws, as well as the meaning of legal terminology, and can make recommendations as to which specific defense strategy might produce the most positive result in a particular case.