Criminal liability emerges once an offense has already been committed. Once the crime has been done, the actors or the persons responsible either by direct or indirect participation are deemed liable.
There are a number of things, however, that may affect criminal liability. These may either raise the liability and, consequently, the punishment or work to mitigate or completely eradicate the penalty.
Diminished responsibility due to minority and senility
Being a minor can either limit or completely eradicate criminal liability. The assumption here is that a child lacks the intelligence to discern the consequences of their actions.
The law recognizes that a child does not have the complete moral faculties or intelligence to decide on certain matters. This is why any seasoned criminal defense lawyers in Houston and in other places would first ask an offender about his or her age. Being a minor is one of the most potent defenses available; provided that it is proven that the child doesn’t have an understanding of his actions.
Senility is the other side of the coin. In this case, the law may mitigate the penalty for an elderly individual. The reason for this is that the person is so old that he has become fragile and his mental faculties aren’t as sharp as they used to be.
These are circumstances that make it reasonable for a person to do what they did. In such a case, the law would still see the act as criminal, but understands the motivation behind it and may find it acceptable.
One of the most common defenses that defense teams use is the justification of self-defense. For example, a person may not be liable for applying a deadly amount of force required to protect themselves and possibly others from harm.
Apart from these, there are exempting and aggravating circumstances that the courts may consider in evaluating criminal liability.