Good Example Of Criminal Case Analysis Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Criminal Justice, Crime, Family, Andrea Yates, Self-Defense, Children, Justification, Excuse

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/10/25

There are several types of criminal defenses that are used by the criminal attorney during the criminal trial. Each of these trials is different and are based on the different set of circumstances. The most commonly used criminal defenses used includes duress, self-defense, intoxication and insanity (Turvey, 2011). In the common law, the rule of duress provides that the defense of the duress is only available to a defendant coerced to commit a criminal act through the use of, or otherwise the threat of force that is against his or her person or the person of another. Self-defense, according to its rule, a defender may use deadly force only if he or she reasonably believes that such force was necessary in order to avoid death or any serious bodily injury. On the other hand, intoxication may negate a specific intent, where a particular kind of mens rea applicable only to some of the crimes (Turvey, 2011). For instance, lack of specific intent may reduce murder to manslaughter. Furthermore, insanity can be cauterized into two broad groups; namely mentally ill and legal insanity.
The two cases that bring about a good discussion of some of these types of criminal defenses are the Andrea Yates case and the case of James Bryan Miller. Andrea Yates’ case was one of the most disturbing cases in the court. Andrea Yates from Houston, Texas was convicted of a murder case in the year 2002 for drowning her five children in a bathtub in the year 2001. In 2005, the convictions against her were overturned (Turvey, 2011). In the court, she was found not guilty for the reason being insanity. In the case, Yates claimed and excused herself that Satan had overtaken her soul, and this caused her to do such thing to her children. She stated that, she had a belief that if she killed her children, then their souls would be kept innocent and that they will go to heaven. This was after Andrea Yates had suffered from postpartum depression and some postpartum psychosis for a period of time. In fact, she had received a warning from her doctor that she was not supposed to have any other children before she got her fifth born.
During the second trial, the jury used the evidence based on Yates’ postpartum psychosis in order to make his final decision. They came to find out that her illness from postpartum psychosis had rendered her incapable of being able to distinguish between what was right and wrong. Later, she was committed to high-security treatment facility after she was successfully acquitted of insanity (Turvey, 2011). It was, therefore, clear that Yates case involved insanity defense. It claimed that the defendant was not responsible for his or her action at the time she or he was experiencing a mental problem.
On the other hand, self-defense involves an individual defending himself, his property or from well-being of another from being harmed. This kind of defense was well used in the case of James Bryan Miller (Ian, 2015). The accused was charged with a criminal homicide after he had shot and killed a sixteen-year high school student on 2008 October. The killed student was part of home invasion where the accused was located, along with the two other young men. The witness informed the police that the accused was an occupant at home where the killing happened.
When Miller killed the boy, he fled but was later arrested. He did not notify the police, summoned any medical aid nor reported the incident to the authorities. For this reason, the police officer did not believe of a home invasion thus went further to search for Miller and was finally arrested. He was charged with criminal homicide (Ian, 2015). Miller defended himself by saying that he was protecting his own life and that of the other occupants from the invaders.
In both cases, that is, Yates and Miller’s case, justification and excuse where employed. Justification in the court of law is when the defendant admits that he is responsible for committing the crime, saying he had no choice but to go ahead and do so, so as to protect himself or the others from harm. On the other hand, an excuse is when the defendant admits that he committed the crime, but not responsible for the actions he did.
Justification applied in the Yates’ case when she said that she thought that she and her children were in danger and thus killing them was like saving them (Turvey, 2011). On the other hand, excuse played a role when she was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis that might have hindered her from reasoning, thus claiming that she was not responsible for the actions. Furthermore, justification also played a role in Bryan Miller’s case. He claimed that he was trying to protect himself, as well as the others, from being harmed by the invaders. This means that he had no any other choice but to commit the act. In addition, excuse also played a role in Miller’s case for the assumption that he was not responsible for actions he committed since was either to kill or be killed (Turvey, 2011). All these are applicable in the criminal law and can be used to determine one’s fate.


Ian, A. (2015). Self-Defense Ruled In Case Where Central Student Was Killed - Retrieved 2 February 2015, from
Turvey, B. E. (2011). Criminal Profiling: An Introduction to Behavioral Evidence Analysis. Burlington: Elsevier Science.

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