Affirmative Defence vs Negative Defence

In criminal law, an affirmative defence is a legal defence where the defendant admits to committing the crime, but asserts that there are other facts that excuse or justify their conduct.

Affirmative Defence
An affirmative defence requires the defendant to provide evidence to support their claim. The burden of proof falls on the defendant to prove that their defence is valid. Some examples of affirmative defences include:

  1. Self-defence: The defendant acted in self-defence to protect themselves or others from harm.
  2. Duress: The defendant was forced to commit the crime under the threat of harm.
  3. Insanity: The defendant was not mentally capable of understanding their actions or the consequences of their actions at the time of the crime.

Negative Defence
A negative defence, also known as a general defence, is a legal defence where the defendant denies the allegations made against them. The defendant does not have to provide any evidence to support their claim. The burden of proof remains with the prosecution to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Some examples of negative defences include:
  1. Alibi: The defendant was somewhere else at the time of the crime and could not have committed it.
  2. Lack of intent: The defendant did not intend to commit the crime.
  3. Mistaken identity: The defendant was not the person who committed the crime.

It is important to note that not all jurisdictions recognise the same affirmative defences, and the availability of a particular defence will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the laws of the jurisdiction where the case is being heard.
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