Anyone who has ever been charged with a crime knows that, more often than not, the case is settled long before it goes to trial. According to Pew Research, only two out of every 100 federal criminal cases make it that far. In 90% of these cases, people pleaded guilty, likely in exchange for lesser charges, and the charges are dropped in the remaining eight percent of federal cases. State cases are tried with more frequency, though still only at a rate of about 5% to 10%. All these statistics are the reality for the majority of people charged with a crime. But what about those who do go to trial? What can be expected?
For starters, defendants can expect the prosecution to present a narrative with a particular theme highlighting the character flaws of the alleged criminal. Greed, indifference, callousness, negligence — these are all characteristics that could be nailed onto the defendant to win the jury over to the prosecution’s way of seeing the evidence.
Prosecutors will attempt to tie every bit of evidence they can to the narrative they wind throughout the course of the trial. Every document, every witness, every recording, and every bit of forensic evidence will somehow be used to implicate the defendant in the crime. They will try to make it all make sense based on the lens used, showing myriad character deficiencies of the defendant.
Unloading the Story
Every prosecutor has a different way of telling their story. Some will simply lead the jury through events in what they believe is chronological order. Others will try to grab the jury’s sympathy right off the bat with highly emotional photos or testimony. Defendants need to be prepared for anything.
Burden of Proof
The burden of proof in a criminal trial is on the prosecution. Defendants are supposed to be considered innocent until proven otherwise. That means the prosecution must present evidence (burden of production) and convince the jury to convict based on the legal standard of proof (burden of persuasion). In a criminal case, that means a defendant must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. What does that mean? If there is even a faint chance that a defendant is innocent based on reason — a level of doubt that would affect decision-making in life’s weighty affairs — the jury is required to acquit.
The Defense You Need
At Boertje & Associates, our dogged and experienced criminal defense attorneys believe that everyone deserves a strong and aggressive defense. If you are facing criminal charges, schedule a confidential consultation in our San Diego office today.