How to win a criminal case in court

Today I’m going to guide you on how to win a criminal case in court.

Apart from several criminal law defenses that you can raise to defend yourself in a criminal case, winning a criminal case in court is an art. An art to convince the court that you’re not liable for the offense charged so the court can set you free or sentence you with a lesser punishment.

Here is how you can do it.

How to win a criminal case in court

To win a criminal case in court you must Understand the elements/ingredients of the Offence Charged, attack prosecution evidence, have confidence, avoid contradicting yourself, explain with clarity, behave with respect, call witnesses, and if you can, hire an attorney.

Understand the elements/ingredients of the Offence Charged

This is a foundation for winning a criminal case.

Every offense in law has its ingredients. Court considers each element of the offense before judge you. You can get the ingredients of your offense by considering the wording of the section which provides for the said offense as stipulated on ‘charge’.

The technique in defense is to undo any of the ingredients to make the offense unjustifiable.

Consider the following example to get my point

Assume you are charged with an offense of Stealing contrary to section 258 (1) of the Penal Code.

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That section provides that

“A person who fraudulently and without the claim of right takes anything capable of being stolen, or fraudulently converts to the use of any person other than the general or special owner thereof anything capable of being stolen steals that thing.”

From the above provision, the following important elements of stealing can be drawn

  1. Fraudulent taking
  2. without a claim of right
  3. The thing must be capable of being stolen

So when defending yourself in a stealing case you must direct your evidence to show that you did not fraudulently take the thing or you have a claim of right over the thing or the thing is not capable of being stolen. By doing that the chance of winning your case is higher.

If you will fail to determine the ingredients you may ask a lawyer or someone with the proper knowledge to help you.


Confidence entails authority and authenticity. Be confident when defending yourself. Regardless you truly did the offense or the matter has been cooked for you.

Confidence will add credit to your evidence.

I know it’s hard for a normal person to be confident before the court but try to build one.

Avoid Contradictory Statements

Contradictory statements will spoil your evidence. It will show that you’re lying.

For example, when you give your evidence you said: “on the date of the event I was home with my family, I didn’t steal from anyone”.

But when asked by the state attorney in cross-examination you say “on the date of the event I was out with my friends, having fun”. This contradiction raises doubts. It may cost you. Be straightforward and remember everything you said to avoid contradictions.

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The bad contradictions are those which go to the root of the elements of the offense you’re charged with.


The clarity of your explanation gives credit to your evidence. Be clear. When necessary adduce documentary evidence to clarify your point.

Attack the prosecution evidence (prove them wrong)

A criminal case is like a movie. The court was not present at the scene of the crime. It only judges you basing on the story (evidence) it receives from both sides.

To win a criminal case you have to convince the court that your story is a true reflection of what happened and the prosecution’s side story is a lie.

 Mind your conduct/demeanor

Courts consider your conduct throughout the case even in Judgment. While defending yourself be humble, address the court with respect. Make your integrity a priority.

 Call witnesses (choose them carefully)

Witnesses are the key players in your defense. They can help you win or ruin your case. Call only witnesses who can prove or disprove specific elements/facts of your case. Rank them according to their importance.</span >

There is no minimum or maximum number of witnesses. Many witnesses do not mean that you are going to win. The quantity does not matter but the quality

Isack Kimaro

Editor-in-chief and founder of Holder of Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from Mzumbe University and Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law school of Tanzania. Lawyer by profession and blogger by passion.

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