Being charged with a crime can be a scary situation, especially if this is new to you. When this happens, the situation may involve an arrest and then a trial. After being arrested, your first step should be to hire a good criminal-defense attorney. He or she can help you make decisions about your case, and one of the decisions will be how you should plead. This suggestion your lawyer makes to you will most likely be based on your criminal record, the evidence in the case, and the likelihood that he or she could place reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors. Here are a few things you should understand about reasonable doubt as you prepare for your trial.
How Jurors Are Supposed to Base Verdicts
When a criminal case is tried in court, the panel of jurors that hears the case is left with making the decision about the verdict. The judge handling the case will instruct the jurors about the rules related to their verdict, and one of the rules is that they cannot produce a guilty verdict unless they are absolutely certain the person is guilty.
The judge will also explain to the jurors what reasonable doubt is, and it is vital that the jurors understand this. Reasonable doubt is any type of doubt that the defendant committed the crime in question. There may be times when there is a lot of reasonable doubt present in a case, but there may be other times when the jurors only feel a slight amount of reasonable doubt.
In either situation, the jurors are not legally allowed to produce a guilty verdict if there is any amount of reasonable doubt present in the case. The purpose of this is to make sure a person is only charged with a crime if they are certain that the person committed the crime. This rule of law helps prevent innocent people from being punished for crimes they did not commit.
How Your Lawyer Can Use This to Help You with Your Case
The first way your lawyer will use reasonable doubt is to help you determine how to plead in your case. There are several options, but pleading guilty or not guilty are the two main ones. To make a suggestion to you, your lawyer will review all the evidence in the case. The point of this is to determine whether there is enough evidence to prove you did the crime or to see whether there is enough evidence that will demonstrate that you did not commit the crime. If your lawyer feels like there is not enough evidence to prove you did it, he or she may suggest pleading not guilty.
The second way your lawyer will use reasonable doubt is during the trial. Your lawyer's goal will be to make the jurors believe that there is a good possibility that you did not commit the crime. Your lawyer will use evidence and theories to show this. If your lawyer is successful with this, the jurors will not be able to come up with a guilty verdict because they will see there is reasonable doubt. This is a common method used by criminal defense lawyers, and it tends to work well in many cases.
Facing criminal charges can be an overwhelming experience for anyone, and therefore, you need a good lawyer. A good criminal-defense lawyer will know the law and will understand and apply rules like this to your case. If you have not yet hired a lawyer to represent you, look for one such as Jeffrey D. Larson, Attorney at Law today.