Defending a criminal can be an art form. Criminal attorneys need to come up with a defense that is tailored to the defendant to give the defendant their best shot in court. Sometimes a case is complex or just plain odd, and the attorney needs to be a bit creative. Here are some strange criminal defenses that have been used in court that you won’t believe actually succeeded.
In 2002, Tonda Ansley shot and killed her landlord. During the trial, she pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. It’s not easy to convince a jury that someone is insane. While many people believe that you have to be insane to commit a violent crime, and maybe that is true on some level, but the definition of insanity in a courtroom is that the person doesn’t understand that they did anything wrong or the consequences of their actions.
Ansley allegedly believed that her landlord was taking her into the Matrix to kill her once she was brainwashed. She believed that she was in the Matrix with her landlord when she shot and killed her, and committing crimes in the Matrix is perfectly acceptable because it’s just a computer simulation. Instead of avoiding the crazy Matrix story, Ansley’s defense attorney decided to run with it and won the insanity case without a hitch.
Woman on Auto-Brewery
Hours after a New York woman had a single drink, she was given a breathalyzer and blew four times the legal limit. Perplexed, she explained to the officer that she hadn’t been drinking, but the breathalyzer doesn’t lie, so she was booked. The police officer took the woman to the hospital when the blood-alcohol content was dangerously high, but the hospital couldn’t find any symptoms that she had been drinking and said she was free to go. She called a lawyer who got on the internet to see if this had ever happened to anyone before, and he found a rare condition called auto-brewery syndrome.
It’s an extremely rare condition where the gut ferments its own ethanol when common carbohydrates are combined with gastrointestinal yeast. It won’t cause you to have any symptoms of being intoxicated, but it will cause you to blow a bad breathalyzer test. People with auto-brewery syndrome can function normally with a blood alcohol content of .30 to .40, while most people would be near death. When the attorney presented the condition to a judge in court, the case was completely dismissed.
Virginia successfully won the first case with PMS as a defense in 1991. An orthopedic surgeon named Geraldine Richter was pulled over after driving erratically with her children in the car. When pulled over, the state trooper gave her a breathalyzer test. She failed the test and then proceeded to kick the trooper in the groin while screaming foul language. After being arrested and booked, she told her attorney that she hadn’t had enough to drink to fail a breathalyzer, and she didn’t understand why she failed it and was acting so erratically.
After admitting to her lawyer she was on her menstrual cycle, he crafted the PMS defense and won. Her lawyer found research supporting that a woman on her period can lose so much blood, alcohol raises the blood alcohol content more than it normally would. Coupled with that and the PMS causing mood swings, he succeeded getting her found not guilty in court. The court ruling caused a lot of problems in the court world. The prosecutor thought it wasn’t fair to men and it made women look bad everywhere, but the jury spoke, and nothing could change the verdict.
If you ever find yourself in a bind with the law, don’t think your case is hopeless. As you can see, even the most seemingly cut and dry cases can win a defense. You just need to find a creative trial attorney that doesn’t give up on you.