Due Process and Legal Defenses
It is clearly written in the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Yet, an individual may be a criminal if their act falls under the three important elements of a crime. However, if the individual wanted , he or she can claim a legal defense to protect themselves.
We must acknowledge that there is no formal definition of what the term due process means. However, this does not mean that there is not a limit as to what the concept of due process may stand for. Over the past decades, there have been significant legal developments in the area of due process and individual rights.
The concept of due process ensures that individuals are treated fairly and received the proper protection from the government. Due process’ importance is unmatched, especially since the law and court’s legitimacy are based on the public’s perception of due process.
In order for a crime to be a crime, the act requires three important elements. These elements are actus reus, mens rea, and concordance between the two. Actus reus means the act must be a “guilty” act or omission. While the word mens rea means a “guilty” state of mind.
There are a total of ten general legal defenses that defendants may use in court to excuse their behavior. Three of these defenses are infancy, intoxication, and insanity. The defendant can plead infancy is he or she is too young to form a guilty state of mind. The defendant can plead intoxication if he or she was intoxicated at the time of the crime and failed to rationally form mens rea, or a “guilty” state of mind. Last but not least, a defendant can claim insanity if his or her insanity did not allow him or her to rationally form mens rea.