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Sample Mock Trial Closing Argument for a Assault Case

Here is an example of a defense lawyer closing argument in a self-defense case for mock trial. It involves an allegation of assault, and the accused is claiming self-defense. Below is the prosecutor's response. As a former prosecutor and a defense lawyer currently, I have tried over 200 jury trials. The below is an example of what closing are like, with ideas that I have pulled from various cases. undefined

Thank you for your attention, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, on this very important case.

The prosecutor didn’t face a threat that night. The judge didn’t face a threat that night, and the 12 of you didn’t face a threat that night. Only one person did. And that is my client. He did what he thought he had to. None of us had to make the split second decision that he did. And yet, we are all asked to second guess him today. To Monday-morning quarterback him, if you will. It was Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendall Holmes who said that “you can’t expect calm detachment in the presence of an uplifted knife.” Now there was no knife involved in this case, but the point is the same. People have to make split second decisions in exercising self-defense. Sometimes people in hindsight should have, or could have, handled the matter differently. But hindsight isn’t the measure we use when judging a defendant’s actions. Rather we analyze what happened from the perspective of how things looked at the time to my client.

The alleged victim doesn’t look so scary in the light of day, in the courtroom witness chair, all dressed up, cleaned up. But that is not the circumstance when my client used force, is it? The man came at my client in a dark alley behind a tavern, and no one knew or could have known his intentions. And my client decided that he wanted to go home that night, that he wanted to survive.

Self-defense is not just the stuff of law books. Self-defense is a defense that nature herself recognizes, a recognition really that any living creature is going to act, or react a certain way when faced with a threat.

Self-defense is often something that police and prosecutors don’t really understand. No one walks up to police and prosecutors on the street and threatens them. That doesn’t happen because the system would come down on them like a ton of bricks. No, it is people like my client Jacob Moore who get messed with, who get bullied. The nobodies of this world. My client isn’t particularly big, he isn’t important around town, and he might have looked like he was fair game for intimidation, for bullying. But he stuck up for himself. He reacted. And now he is being judged. The jury system was intended to stick up for the little guy. Our forefathers knew that someone or something had to serve as a buffer between the individual citizen and the powerful government. My client has no burden of proof, the state has to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.undefined

My client faces a serious offense. He is charged with a violent crime. His life is on the line. You think the police would have done a more thorough job in the investigation. You really would. You would think my client would be entitled to a fair investigation before people would pass judgment on him. The police should have tried to find independent witnesses who were at the tavern that night. They did not. How come none of the bartenders were subpoenaed? Instead the police relied on the word of the alleged victim and his friends. And you know the kind of people they are. None of their stories matched. Half of them admitted to drug use on the night in question. Is that the type of scant proof that can send a man to jail?Doesn’t my client deserve better? Don’t we all? Hold the state to its burden. A conviction in this case would be a travesty. Do the right thing.

Example of the prosecutor’s response: Thank you for your attention in this matter. Ladies and gentlemen, there is a difference between “self-defense” and retribution. There is a difference between self-defense and an over-reaction. And there is a difference between what constitutes reasonable doubt, and what amounts to just excuses by the defendant. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the defendant provoked the fight that night by his aggressive conduct. The law doesn’t allow a man to pick a fight, and then create the need to then defend himself.

There is a saying that actions speak louder than words. We ask you to judge the defendant by his actions, by what he did that night, not by what he said today in the courtroom. His claims today do not match his actions on that day in question.

We are a nation of laws, and every one of us must follow those laws. You know what? If you have a problem with someone, you just walk away. Or you can even tell them off. You can tell them “you’re no good” or “you’re a jerk.” You can really say that, because that is freedom of speech. But what you can’t do is lay hands on someone. You can’t punch them, and you can’t slap them. The law doesn’t allow that. And we all live by these laws. I think we all have that temptation sometime in our life, to lash out. But you resist that impulse. Everyone has to do that. It is part of being a grown up. It is part of living in a civilized society. Our system is a system that holds people accountable for things like that. And it is part of what makes this country great.

This notion of accountability has a big place in our criminal justice system, that we are all accountable for our actions. Now we don’t always like being held accountable, and we don’t always own up to what we have done, but we all have to face the consequences of our own actions. Every one of us.

The defense has essentially put the victim on trial, pointing out that the victim is a thief, that the victim is a drug addict. But that doesn’t justify what happened to him. It cannot. We are all entitled to the protection of the laws. Even the victim. I would submit to you that the victim has more in common with us than we might first think. He has hopes and dream like we do, he feels pain like we do, and as you can tell from the hospital photos, he bleeds red like we do. And you know what, I am sure there was never a time when he looked in the mirror that he didn’t wish that he made more of his life than he did. But he didn’t deserve what happened to him. No one deserves that. Maybe he didn’t get the breaks in life that some of us did, or maybe he did and he blew it, and God knows he made a lot of mistakes in his life, but you know what? He has paid for every one of those mistake, everyone.

I want to talk about what I need to prove in this case. I also want to talk about what I don’t have to prove. The law says I must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that on or about March 11th, 2013, that the defendant struck Jack Rain, and did so intentionally, and that there was an absence of self-defense. I don’t have to prove why, what the motive was, or whether the injury was cause by a punch or a kick. Just that an assault occurred. That is what I have to prove. That is it. I don’t have to prove that the defendant is a bad person. And you know what, I maybe couldn’t prove that. This case, no case, is a judgment of a person. Rather it is a judgment of their actions. Maybe the defendant had a bad day, maybe he had too much to drink. And defendant isn’t the first guy who found himself a little trouble on a Saturday night, and he won’t be the last. But I would ask that you find him accountable for what he did. And that is assault in the 4th degree. Thank you.

For more sample closings, see here.

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