Justifications and excuses are the two major categories of criminal defenses. Both may be classified as affirmative defenses, which require the defendant to carry the burden of proof, usually by a preponderance of the evidence or by producing clear and convincing evidence. Some jurisdictions require the prosecution to negate a defense’s existence beyond a reasonable doubt as if it were an element of the crime, a sort of "negative element." In general, however, it is the defendant’s responsibility to raise a justification or excuse defense and present evidence in support of it. The readings this week focus on justifications, such as self-defense and property defense, and excuse defenses, such as insanity and intoxication. It is important that you become familiar with these defenses because you are asked to apply one to a case in this week's Discussion.
To prepare for this assignment:
Pay attention to various justification defenses.
Focus on the various types of excuse defenses.
Review the article "Symposium: Criminal Responsibility: Justifications and Excuses." Consider the differences between justifications and excuses under the criminal law and outside of the law.
Select one justification and one excuse defense to compare.
Reflect on the similarities and differences between the two defenses you selected.
In a 1 to 2 page
Compare (similarities and differences) one justification and one excuse defense.
Explain at least one insight you had or conclusion you drew about criminal defenses as a result of your comparison.