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The defendant cannot be forced to give evidence and can choose whether to do so or not. A defendant who decides to give evidence does so by going into the witness box, taking the oath (or affirming) and answering any questions asked first by the defendant's lawyer and then by the prosecutor in cross-examination. The defendant may also call witnesses who are able to give evidence relevant to the defence.

There are a number of different defences available to a defendant and common defences are discussed below.

If appropriate, a defendant may rely on more than one defence as alternative defences, but must be careful not to prejudice a good defence by throwing in weaker or conflicting ones.

Reasonable Doubt

In addition to other defences the defendant may attempt to raise doubts in the prosecution case.

The defence will attempt to demonstrate any inconsistencies and shortcomings in the prosecution case.

Where all the elements which make up the offence are not proved beyond reasonable doubt on the evidence presented, the defence is entitled to submit that the prosecution has not proved its case. If this is accepted the defendant will be found not guilty.


For details about the criminal responsibility of children, see CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE, Young Offenders, Criminal responsibility.

Defences  :  Last Revised: Mon Sep 28th 2015
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.