2 strange criminal defense tactics from legal history

Many strange things happen on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes these strange things lead to injury, death or what looks like a criminal violation. However, criminal courts, and their juries and judges, make an effort to look at each criminal as a unique situation and decide the case accordingly.

Suffice it to say, the United States legal system has litigated and reached decisions on some very unusual case-scenarios. Let’s take a look at two — and their equally unusual defenses — from the not too distant past.

A murder defense that cited “The Matrix”

In mid-2002, a woman shot her landlord in the head. The woman did not dispute the action of shooting her landlady, but she did offer an explanation. “They commit a lot of crimes in The Matrix,” she said.

The woman’s lawyer cited this statement as the central premise in the woman’s insanity defense. According to her lawyer, the woman was delusional and believed that her landlord wanted to brainwash and kill her. Further, the lawyer argued that his client believed that people lived in pods of red goop and — in reality — what we saw and experienced was nothing more than a hologram.

Interestingly, the defense worked. The woman proved that she thought we are all living in a computer simulation. As a result of her belief, she felt it was okay to kill anyone around her that was a threat. The jury in the case found the woman not guilty.

The identical “evil twin” defense

For this next case example, we’ll go overseas to Malaysia, where traffickers of marijuana face the punishment of death by hanging. In this case, a 27-year-old Malaysian man faced accusations of marijuana and opium trafficking. However, the man had an identical twin. Both twins accused the other of being the one who committed the crime.

This defense of claiming that the other twin was at fault led to the jury, the judge and prosecutors becoming confused. Ultimately, they couldn’t figure out which of the twins was guilty. They didn’t even know which of the twins was arrested for the crime initially. As a result, the court system allowed both twins to walk away scott-free.

Most criminal scenarios are not so unique

These case examples are an excellent reminder to investigate any and all legal defense strategies available, no matter how strange they appear. That said, it’s rare for such an unusual criminal defense to work. More importantly, it could be extremely risky to experiment with such novel approaches — especially when an accused person’s life and freedom are on the line.

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