No one wants to face the consequences of their actions—especially legal consequences. Whether you're being booked for a traffic violation or something more serious, the thought of a hefty fine or jail time can be debilitating ahead of your court date. So, how do you avoid spending time behind bars or shelling out hundreds of dollars? You hire a lawyer. They understand the law, they know what to say, and most importantly, they're your best chance at looking innocent—that is, until you open your big fat mouth in court. Here are some of the most ridiculous defenses lawyers and judges have seen in court.
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#1 The Light Wasn't That Red
My sister told the judge that the light “wasn’t that red”. Then he said he was going to suspend her license and she said “but my dad already took it away."
#2 Are You Sure?
I saw this go down while waiting for my traffic ticket.
Judge: So, you were seen pulling a stop sign out of the ground and throwing it in the river.
Accused: Yes, sir.
J: Were you drinking?
A: No, sir.
J: The ticket says you were intoxicated.
A: No, sir.
J: Okay, let's say I believe you. I will throw out this drunken disorderly charge.
A: Thank you, sir.
J: But, I will have to charge you with the destruction of government property and endangering the public. That comes with at least a year in jail. So I'll ask one more time. Were you drinking?
A: Yes, sir. Very much, sir.
#3 In That Order
Judge: "It says here you were drinking and driving."
Guilty man: "No sir. I drank then I drove."
#4 She Made Me Do Laundry
It was a domestic abuse case. The husband was the accused. The couple was in their late 70s or early 80s. When asked if he did indeed abuse his wife, the husband started complaining that some 40 years ago the wife pretended to be ill and he had to do the laundry all by himself, as if he expected the judge to just go, "Oh okay, I guess that's cool then."
#5 The Full $120
A friend of mine once got a ticket for leaving her car standing in the marked off no parking zone in front of a grocery store, which she thought was outrageous because she was just running in to get a pack of smokes. Then, she saw how much the ticket was for, something like $120, which she thought was just ridiculous because she was just running in for a pack of smokes. I mean, come on, how is that worth $120?
So her plan was to go to court and contest the ticket and point out to the judge how ridiculous that was and offer to compromise at like maybe $40 because for Pete's sake, she was just running in for a pack of smokes and let's be reasonable here. Yes, her plan was to haggle with the judge over how much the ticket should be worth.
So she goes to court and sits there most of the day waiting for her case to be called. And eventually, she gets bored and goes outside to grab a smoke and hang out. And while she's out there, her case is called. She missed the whole thing. She didn't even get to try the whole "come on, $120? For that? Come on, I'll give you $40 and even that's highway robbery" defense on the judge and got hit for the full value of the ticket plus court costs.
#6 Where's His Money?
I took a guy to small claims court. His defense was, "I didn't have the product, so I couldn't ship it to him, obviously." The judge was like, "But you took his money?" The guy said, "Yeah, so I could buy the product and ship it to him." Judge: "Did you do that?" Guy: "Not yet." Judge: "Do you have his money?" Guy: "No, I had had an emergency and had to spend it." That was that. I won.
#7 Wrong Charge
I watched a friend try a DWI case. Her client testified that she wasn't drinking while driving, and therefore not guilty because she was actually high on illegal substances at the time. My friend put her head down and started hitting her head against the desk.
#8 Just a Handyman
A guy was on break and enter charges and got caught red-handed by police. They stood behind him watching him trying to break through the door of a factory with the typical B&E tool kit: screwdriver, hammer, etc. This was in the middle of the night. His defense was that he was a handyman and went to the wrong address.
#9 Where Else Would It Be?
"Of course his DNA was in the alley behind his apartment (where an assault took place). Where else would you expect to find your DNA except where you lived!"
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#10 Only Two Bottles
A guy was in court for a DUI and he insisted on taking the stand when his lawyer advised him not to. It turned out that he wanted the judge to know the cop who arrested him was "just some rude kid trying to be a bigshot" and he wasn't even drinking, he'd only had two bottles of wine with dinner. His lawyer interrupted him to try to get him to stop talking and he told his lawyer to "shut up". He got maxed on the charge and advised in the future if he was going to pay for a lawyer, he should listen to him.
#11 Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy jumping out of the courthouse window and running probably didn't do much to convince people he was innocent.
#12 It Just Happens
My cousin was on a jury for a domestic case. The woman was put in the hospital by her boyfriend. She was in a coma for 18 months and couldn't even appear in court. Apparently, the guy pushed her through a door and down the stairs. The guy's defense lawyer was actually trying to get him off with a lighter sentence but then they guy opened his mouth and tried using the defense of, "If she would have just listened to me I wouldn't have gotten so mad! I didn't think the push was strong enough to put her through the door. I didn't mean to put her in a coma, it just happens." He ended up spending three years in jail.
#13 It's Invisible
I knew a guy who said that the police who responded to the domestic that he had perpetrated had no right to charge him with drug possession since the illegal substance was so pure, no one could have seen it.
#14 Sick Days
So my teacher back in law school told me about our public transportation company. They had a lawsuit against them from one of their former employees for firing her for the wrong reason. She was bullied by the personal and tried to prove it in court and the public transportation system tried to argue that they did not fire her for that, but instead, they fired her for always being sick and taking sick days (which is also illegal to fire someone for that reason).
#15 For Freedom
"It was Independence Day your honor. A day to celebrate the freedoms that our forefathers fought and died for. A day to celebrate what this country is. So yes, judge, I DID do some drugs. For freedom" This was in a drug treatment court.
#16 Wrong Flag
Hands down it's a tie between every Sovereign Citizen I've seen in court for a simple traffic violation like displaying expired plates or not registering a vehicle. The defense is always a stupid variation of "This court doesn't have jurisdiction because the wrong flag is displayed in the courtroom."
#17 What Now?
Judge: "Why do you think showing up to this young lady's home unannounced, after she has made it clear to you she is not romantically interested in you, was an acceptable thing to do?" The guy I was getting a restraining order against said, "I just wanted to lick the inside of her dog's mouth."
I once had a restraining order case for two gay men. The guy claiming abuse was a HUGE man. Fat and definitely over 6' 4''. He was against his tiny partner. At first the magistrate was very incredulous, likely thinking what we were all thinking about the massive size disparity between the two. When the tiny guy got up to speak, he started scolding his larger partner for saying things like that, and at some point. He threw a pen at the bigger man. The bigger guy started to cry, and then the little guy started taunting him.
#19 Hidden Cameras
During law school in class, I had to defend a hotel manager who was putting hidden cameras in the rooms.
#20 Last Name Change
I was 14 and wanted to change my last name to my stepdad's. My biological father had to be present for the appointment and sign off on it. It went something like this:
Judge: "Ok if everyone will sign here your name will be changed"
Bio-dad: "I'm not signing"
Judge: "Why not?"
Bio-dad: "What if she gets pregnant out of wedlock? I want the baby to have my last name."
A reminder that I was 14 years old, had never even kissed a boy, and I hadn't spoken to my dad in at least five years. The judge told him that was an irrelevant point and convinced him to sign the paper. I was glad to leave that part of my life behind me that day.
#21 Admit to Wrong
I knew a guy that was charged with pimping a 17-year-old girl. Mind you, he didn't tell anyone he knew she was 17. I won't get into the morality of pimping because that's another subject entirely. But, his defense was that he wasn't a pimp. He was a rapper and a dealer. Like, why would you admit to being a dealer? They booked him for 20 to 26 years.
#22 Grow Up
Judge: "Why are you late?"
Defendant: "My mom didn't wake me up."
Judge: "How old are you?"
#23 Confusing Case
A few years ago I was doing jury duty at crowned court in the Old Bailey. It was to judge this gang violence case against a Sri Lanken gang in London. Essentially, someone had been attacked in a car park. There were six suspects in this trial; two of which had left the country. What was very clear, was that all six of these people were in complete cahoots.
Every one of these four came to trial, and blamed one other, so no one got blamed twice, but every one of them got the blame placed on them. Most of the evidence pointed to one of the guys in the trial, or one of the guys that had left the country. We had to vote 'Not guilty' because there was so much reasonable doubt against all of them that none of them could be prosecuted.
#24 It's Not Illegal
I was sitting on a jury for a case of reckless endangerment. The defense was, "It's not illegal because he didn't mean to. He was high on pills." I seriously hope that guy got an appeal for bad counsel.
#25 Bad Boyfriend
I had a guy come into my jail with a robbery charge. He tried to explain that it was a misunderstanding because he just took a girl's money and kept the grass he was supposed to buy her for himself. So, at most he was just a bad boyfriend. He made his situation worse by throwing in, "Did she tell you we're intimate?" She was underage.
#26 Too Spoiled
There was a kid who had been drinking and driving and hit a family of four. His argument was that he was too spoiled to know the difference between right and wrong.
#27 Old Laws
I was sitting in court for a traffic violation. The guy in front of me had a speeding ticket. To fight it, he pulled out a large stack of papers, about three-quarters of an inch thick. The stack of papers was a law he pulled out of a book from the 1990s from a different country. The poor judge had to read through.
#28 Singing Sorry
Some guy sang a song about how sorry he was. It was honestly beautiful. But he still did the crime. He got life in prison.
#29 The Speedometer Was Broken
This was in traffic court. The guy said he had been speeding "accidentally" because the speedometer in the exotic foreign car he borrowed was marked in kilometers, not miles. The judge massively failed at math and actually bought this defense, even though driving at 85 mph would have been displayed as 136 kmph.
#30 It Wasn't a Deer?
“I thought it was a deer.” A 17-year-old who ran over someone with his car said this.
#31 Old DUIs
I overheard this guy tell the officer that yes, his car license is suspended but his driving truck one isn’t and neither is his moped license. Three people and the judge tried to explain that a suspended license means he’s lost his privilege to drive in general and all together. He kept fighting it and said he wasn’t fixing anything because he’s now driving a moped and that license is still okay. He came out with saying it’s suspended for several “old” DUIs.
#32 Failed Breathalyzer
I was a juror on a DUI case. The driver had drank nine drinks in about three hours. His lawyer tried to argue that electronic interference is what caused him to fail the breathalyzer test.
#33 Changed His Mind
My ex tried the "I didn't do it!" defense during the restraining order hearing. The judge looked at him, already annoyed by him being late, and said, "You're telling me you did not do the crime you confessed to the responding officer and plead guilty to three weeks ago?" If it wasn't terrible to deal with it would have been hilarious.
#34 That's Ridiculous
When I was watching my sister get sentenced for a minor offense, I listened to this court-appointed attorney talk about this 18-year-old girl who was in trouble for hitting her 50-year-old coworker’s car and not telling anyone until the coworker noticed. The coworker was yelling and carrying on about how this obviously pretty concerned 18-year-old girl wouldn’t even acknowledge her at work anymore and how she found her disrespectful. Her court-appointed attorney basically just said, “She told me she was afraid of you and wanted to stay out of your way while this was being worked out.” And the woman screamed, “THAT’S RIDICULOUS.” As far as defending yourself goes, that wasn’t a great way to do it.
#35 Bad Excuse
“I was high."
#36 He Stole
I had a co-worker arrested for scamming me out of $1500. He legit tried to countersue me for extortion. His extortion case was a recording of me saying, "Either give me my money back right now, or I'm calling the police and having you arrested for theft." In his warped mind, I was extorting him by asking for the money back that he stole from me.
#37 She Told Me Differently
The cops got a call about a guy being intimate with a girl in his van. They show up and arrest the guy. He's 20, the girl is 12. When they arrest him, his defense is, "But she told me she was 14."
#38 Gang Women
A man tried to get an ex parte order against his girlfriend, which is relatively rare. It happens, but the vast majority are women getting them against men. This time, however, before his particular hearing could start, a woman came into the courtroom flanked with two other women. All three were straight out of central casting for what you'd imagine NYC gang women to look like.
They walked in and saw the woman's partner seated in the courtroom (though his hearing wasn't up yet). She immediately started threatening everyone in the room, but especially the magistrate. The magistrate had them escorted out with the bailiffs (who called in extra). About 30 minutes later, the dude's hearing was up. The magistrate basically immediately granted the restraining order and said he'll put a note in for the full hearing about that woman's conduct.
#39 Heart Attack
This was in traffic court. An elderly gentleman was pulled over for not wearing his seatbelt and swerving erratically. He told the judge that he needed to remove his seatbelt so he could reach his heart medicine because he was having chest pains. The judge looked at him like he had three heads and asked, "So you thought you were having a heart attack and instead of pulling off the road, you removed your seatbelt so you could fumble through your glovebox trying to find your medicine?"
#40 I Speed All the Time
I was in traffic court and the first guy to go before the judge got pulled over for doing some crazy speed like 140mph. The judge essentially told the guy to say that he would never do it again and that it was a mistake, and in return, the judge would drop the ticket fee and the points on his record.
The guy countered with, "Well, I drive that fast all the time, so I'm really good at it and I don't think it was dangerous at all because of how good of a driver I am." The guy could've walked out totally free, but instead, he got a $2500 fine and two points on his record.
#41 It Was Someone Else
I defended a guy on a DUI that jumped into the backseat after he got pulled over, and claimed someone else was driving. He was the only one in the car.
#42 I Woke Up Late
There was a lady who looked like she was a waitress who got up to make her case in front of the judge. She point blank told the judge in front of the officer that ticketed her that her violation was “made up from a know-it-all cop." The judge then questioned the officer, to which he replied, "Your honor the defendant's car was going 75 in a 35 zone and ran several stoplights."
The judge then proceeded to ask why those charges were unreasonable. Her answer was parody level: “I was drinking last night and woke up late. I couldn’t lose another job so I needed to be on time.” She ended up paying $500 for wasting the judge's time in addition to her tickets.
#43 Spartan Kick
I only hit him, he fell off the building himself.
—A stupid person who spartan kicked my uncle off a highschool building.
#44 I Don't Make Enough
Not a lawyer but my parents divorced a while ago and my dad wasn't paying child support because "he wasn't making enough money." So to prove it, he showed his income. He was making nearly double what my mom made and had a roommate who paid all of his bills.
#45 She Isn't Smart Enough
“My wife shouldn’t have full custody over the kids! She isn’t smart enough!”