What is an Affirmative Defense in Vermont Criminal Law?

Published by Jessica Burke on

An affirmative defense to a Vermont criminal charge is a fact or set of facts other than those alleged by the plaintiff or prosecutor which, if proven by the defendant, defeats or mitigates the legal consequences of the defendant’s otherwise unlawful conduct.

In other words, an affirmative defense allows a defendant to say, yes I did the action that I am accused of doing, but it was excusable and not illegal. Self-defense is an example of an affirmative defense. Self-defense is an affirmative defense used many cases ranging from assault to murder.

Vermont law allows for affirmative defenses in DUI cases.

The Vermont DUI statute outlines two available affirmative defenses. A defendant may assert as an affirmative defense that she was not operating, attempting to operate, or in actual physical control of the vehicle because she:

(1) had no intention of placing the vehicle in motion; and

(2) had not placed the vehicle in motion while under the influence.

In other words, even though a defendant met the statutory definition of DUI, because the defendant had no intention of placing the vehicle in motion and had not placed the vehicle in motion while under the influence a jury could not find the defendant guilty.

An experienced Vermont DUI attorney can assess your case and help you decide if an affirmative defense is your best option. Contact Burke Law for a free, confidential case evaluation today.

Jessica Burke

Jessica Burke is a licensed Vermont attorney and the founder of Burke Law. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Boston College in Political Science, and then received her law degree from Washington & Lee Law School. After law school she worked with several top law firms before settling in Vermont and building her own practice. In addition to being licensed to practice law in the state of Vermont, she also holds a State Bar certification in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, among others. She specializes in criminal defense, including DUI defense, homicides, and sex crimes.

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