When a criminal charge goes to trial, you have to face a complex procedure. It sure is a difficult for an individual to handle this experience. At such times, you need a good criminal defense lawyer to represent your case before the judge and/or jury. Do you have any idea about how the lawyers battle it out?
Here is a quick look at which side, prosecution or defendant, needs to prove what at court during a trial.
In a criminal case, the penalties may be of such serious nature that jeopardizes the life, and future, of an individual. Therefore, US laws dictate that the evidence should prove the guilt of the accused ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ before he/she is convicted. It does not mean that there is no doubt to the guilt. It means that no reasonable doubt is possible after analyzing the evidence presented.
Next, is the question of the burden of proof – which side needs to prove what? Usually, the prosecution has the burden to prove two basic things, namely,
Criminal act – the defendant committed the crimes. Criminal acts could of various categories – intentional, negligent, etc. Failure to act is also, at times, a criminal offense.
Criminal intent – there was an intention to commit the crime. However, the connotation of the term varies from one case to another.
The defendant has two choices – to negate the accusation, and leave the burden of proof on the prosecution, or to affirm the accusation, but prove that there was no criminal intent. The latter category of defense, affirmative defense, requires the defendant to provide evidence to support their claim.
In affirmative defense strategy, you do not deny the facts put forward by the prosecution; you just excuse your conduct on certain grounds. Some of the common grounds of defense are alibi, entrapment, self-defense, duress, and so on.
If your criminal lawyer is planning such a strategy, it is wise to get the details beforehand. Another thing to keep in mind is to get a lawyer who knows your state laws. If you are going to trial in Key Largo, you need a lawyer proficient in Florida criminal laws only.
Why is this important? Each state follows a specific procedure regarding criminal cases. Only a competent Key Largo criminal lawyer would know that Florida laws accept preponderance of evidence as well as clear and convincing evidence supporting affirmative defense. Your lawyer would be aware of such details only if he/she has in-depth knowledge of the state laws.