10 Unbelievable Defenses That Pulled Off the Impossible in the Courtroom

We love to imagine that being a lawyer is like an episode of Suits when it is probably more like Better Call Saul. However, there can be drama in all courtrooms, and a recent online discussion shares stories of when lawyers, plaintiffs, and defendants pulled off the unimaginable.

1. Give That Man a Hand

Stealing purse from door
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

A passer-by couldn’t resist the urge when he saw a wallet on a windowsill. After stealing it, the thief was apprehended soon after. During the trial, his defense attorney argued that as the accused’s entire body didn’t enter the building, only his arm should be eligible for sentencing.

The judge retorted, sentencing the man’s arm to six months’ detention. This decree had no effect: the defendant removed his prosthetic arm, left it in the dock, and walked out of the courthouse.

True or not, it’s a good story to pass on.

2. Death by Aging Squad

Royal court
Image Credit: Souza Pereira/Wiki Commons.

A famous French court Jester named Triboulet was King Francis I’s favorite comedian, renowned for his fearless wit and bravado. When one day, he slapped the king’s rump in front of his court, the enraged king threatened execution unless the flailing joker could redeem himself with an even worse insult.

Triboulet embarrassed Francis again before triggering a firmer death sentence. The jester reasoned that being such a loyal servant, he might choose his manner of departure. Thankfully, the king nodded his approval, to which Tiboulet said, “Good sir, by Saint Goody Two Shoes and Saint Fatty, patrons of insanity, I ask to die from old age!”

The king agreed, on condition that Triboulet live in exile — which he did.

3. Honesty Went a Long Way

Lawyer in court
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The next account involves an attorney representing a man on a breaking charge. What makes this case fascinating is the lawyer’s reframing of the truth — he began by telling the jury his client was a master thief, who police discovered inside a supermarket, though not having stolen anything.

His excuse — which was enough for a jury to acquit him — was that he wanted a job at the supermarket and could have robbed the store if he’d wanted to. Instead, he rearranged the displays to show the manager how good an employee he could be.

4. Too Dumb for Jail

Thief stealing in bank
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

When a hapless bank robber decided to rob his local bank, he left his car running out front, entered the bank, and withdrew his orange water pistol as a weapon. Sadly, his plan failed when the bank tellers laughed at his weapon.

To make matters worse, when the security guards chased him outside, he tried to hotwire a police car and escape. However, he had the last laugh when the lawyer pleaded he was too dumb for jail, to which the judge agreed, setting him free.

5. A Drunken Misadventure

Car crashed in electrical pole
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The following story features the luckiest DUI escape ever after a man got blind drunk, drove his car home, and crashed into an electricity pole — causing an outage for 400 residents. When the police investigated the accident, they found a trail of damage leading back to his house, where he was fast asleep on the couch.

They promptly broke in, took him to the station, charged him, then sent him home the next day. When he appeared in court, his case was thrown out, as the cops had no warrant to search his house — he avoided any penalty at all.

6. A Doorway Misdemeanor

Man drinking
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

After losing his mother the year before, one day, a young man went to his buddy’s house to play video games and drink his dad’s beer. His friend puked after drinking half a bottle, which prompted him to walk home.

On his journey, he ran out of patience and urinated in a shop doorway just as the police rode past. When he had to appear with the magistrate, he cited an inability to hold it in, apologizing for the crime.

The judge must have felt sorry for the kid, giving him a warning and 20 hours of community service.

7. Throwing Down the Glove

British trial 19th century
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

In the early 19th century, a well-known English criminal was being tried for murder, for which he was guilty and faced a likely hanging. However, upon entering the courtroom, the defendant threw down the glove (known as a gage) and demanded a trial by combat.

The legal scholars were astonished to check the law, only to discover the ancient law still stood. The lucky murderer escaped any punishment, as his accusers didn’t want to find a champion to fight him.

8. Harry Camisa’s Great Escape

Accused behind prison
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Harry Camisa was a prisoner in a New Jersey prison who attempted a jailbreak with a portable ladder but was thwarted when he fell asleep. Camisa was discovered with an accomplice, though due to his narcolepsy, he fell asleep before they could escape.

In the court hearing, he pleaded he just wanted a good night’s sleep on the roof because of fresh air. The jury let him go — maybe they believed him or just admired his gall.

9. Making the Judge Laugh

Attorney talking to judge
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

When a bigshot lawyer represented his father-in-law, who had a traffic ticket violation, he began with humor. “Judge, this is the toughest case I have ever tried,” began the legal expert. “Do you see that gentleman over there? He is my father-in-law, and the woman sitting next to him is my mother-in-law.”

The judge laughed at his joke and dismissed the ticket — a bit of humor goes a long way.

10. It’s a Fair Cop, Guvnor

Angry judge
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

A cheeky British student got into hot water with a local policeman who discovered the youngster illegally flyposting. When the policeman arrested him, he quoted old British cops-and-robbers movies, saying, “It’s a fair cop, guvnor, but society made me do it.”

Fast forward to his hearing, the arresting officer’s description of what he said angered the judge so much that she threw the case out.


Martha A. Lavallie
Martha A. Lavallie
Author & Editor | + posts

Martha is a journalist with close to a decade of experience in uncovering and reporting on the most compelling stories of our time. Passionate about staying ahead of the curve, she specializes in shedding light on trending topics and captivating global narratives. Her insightful articles have garnered acclaim, making her a trusted voice in today's dynamic media landscape.