Tag: criminal case

Legal Standards of Proof for Civil and Criminal Cases

Legal Standards of Proof for Civil and Criminal Cases

Before a defendant is found guilty in a criminal case, the prosecutor must provide enough proof to convince the jury that he truly did commit the crime. Likewise, a defendant cannot be ordered to pay a plaintiff in a civil case unless the plaintiff’s attorney has provided adequate proof of the defendant’s liability. But, how much proof is enough? Here are the legal standards of proof for civil and criminal cases:

Preponderance of the Evidence

Preponderance of the evidence is the legal standard of proof that is used in the majority of civil lawsuits, including personal injury cases. To meet this legal standard of proof, the plaintiff in a civil case must provide evidence that shows there is a greater than 50% chance that the defendant is liable. To put it simply, the plaintiff must show that the defendant is more likely than not liable for the damages.

For example, let’s say a jury is deciding whether a defendant is liable for the car accident that caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The jury decides that 60% of the evidence shows that the defendant is liable, but the other 40% of the evidence does not or is questionable. In this situation, the jury must rule in favor of the plaintiff because she was able to provide a preponderance of evidence showing the defendant’s liability.

Beyond A Reasonable Doubt

The beyond a reasonable doubt legal standard of proof is used solely in criminal cases. This is the highest legal standard of proof, meaning more evidence is required to prove this legal standard of proof than any other.

Contrary to popular belief, “beyond a reasonable doubt” does not mean that the jury must be 100% convinced of the defendant’s guilt in order to reach a guilty verdict. It simply means that the jury must find a defendant guilty if the evidence is so convincing that it would be impossible for a reasonable person to doubt the defendant’s guilt. The jury must ask themselves if there is any other logical conclusion that can be reached based on the evidence. If there could be another logical explanation for the evidence besides that the defendant committed the crime, the prosecutor has not met this legal standard of proof.

If you have been injured or charged with a crime, the personal injury attorneys and criminal defense attorneys at Reisch Law Firm can help. We will thoroughly review your case, help you understand your legal options, and then stand by your side through every step of the legal process. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.

How Can Prior Convictions Affect Your Criminal Case?

How Can Prior Convictions Affect Your Criminal Case?

A number of factors can affect the outcome of your criminal case, including whether or not you have prior convictions on your criminal record. How can your past come back to haunt you? Here are some of the ways:

Plea Deals

Plea deals are made between prosecutors and defendants all the time, but a judge must sign off on them before they are official. If a defendant has a prior conviction on his record, this could influence the judge’s decision to approve or reject the plea deal. The judge may reject the plea bargain if he feels that a defendant with multiple criminal convictions does not deserve a plea bargain. He could also reject it if he feels the deal did not adequately punish the defendant considering his criminal record.

Sentencing

Prior convictions can also affect the punishments that a defendant will face for any new crimes that he commits. For example, a first time DUI offender will face up to one year in jail, but defendants with three prior DUI convictions can face up to six years behind bars.

In this example, the law requires an enhanced sentence for defendants with prior convictions. But in other cases, a judge can decide to enhance a sentence for defendants with prior convictions even if it is not required by law. A defendant’s criminal record is one of many factors that may be taken into consideration during the sentencing phase of the trial.

Character Attacks

One of the prosecutor’s goals is to convince the jury that the defendant is capable of committing the crime. In order to do this, the prosecutor will often attack the defendant’s character by discussing his prior criminal convictions. For example, let’s say a defendant is on trial for domestic violence and has been convicted of assault in the past. The prosecutor will most likely bring this up during the trial to show the jury that the defendant has a history of committing violent crimes. Even if the defendant’s prior convictions were for completely unrelated crimes, such as theft or DUI, the prosecutor could still mention them to paint a negative picture of the defendant.

If you have been charged with a crime, it’s important to get in touch with a criminal defense attorney right away. Contact Reisch Law Firm today so our criminal defense attorneys can fight to ensure your prior criminal convictions do not continue to affect your future. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.

The Steps of a Criminal Case

The Steps of a Criminal Case

Many people aren’t sure of what to expect after they have been arrested, which can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. In the event that you are ever taken into custody, it’s important to understand the steps of a criminal case.

Arraignment

Within a few days after your arrest, you will appear in court before the judge for your arraignment. The judge will inform you of the criminal charges against you and ask you to enter a plea. Defendants can either plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. The judge may also decide to set bail at the arraignment or announce that you are being held without bail.

Preliminary Hearing

If you have been charged with a felony, a preliminary hearing may be scheduled in your case following the arraignment. During this hearing, the prosecutor will present the evidence that you committed a crime to the judge. The judge will carefully review the evidence to determine if the case against you is strong enough to warrant a trial. If the judge does not believe there is sufficient evidence, the charges against you will be dropped.

Pre-Trial Conference

Both sides will begin preparing to take the case to trial. Before the trial begins, there will be a pre-trial conference regarding your case. During this conference, the defense and the prosecution may negotiate the terms of a plea bargain for the defendant. This conference is also used to file motions, which are requests submitted to the judge asking him to rule on a certain matter. For instance, a criminal defense attorney may file a motion to have certain evidence excluded from the case. The judge will typically rule on these motions during this pre-trial conference.

Trial

If you do not accept a plea bargain, the case will proceed to trial. Your criminal defense attorney will work with the prosecution and the judge to carefully select an unbiased jury that will be responsible for deciding your fate. After the jury has been finalized, the trial will start.

The trial will begin with an opening statement from the prosecution, followed by an opening statement from the defense. Each side will then have the opportunity to call witnesses, introduce evidence, and present their case, with the prosecution going first. Each witness will be cross-examined by the other side’s attorney before stepping down from the stand.

After both sides have presented their cases, they will each get to make a closing argument to the jury. Then, the jury will be given instructions and sent to deliberate. The jury members will return to the courtroom when they have reached a verdict, which will be read to the court.

Sentencing

If you plead guilty or no contest or you are found guilty in court, you will have to attend another hearing for sentencing. This is where you will be informed of any fines, community service, probation, jail or prison time.

If you have been arrested, contact Reisch Law Firm as soon as possible. Our attorneys can represent you throughout the entire legal process to defend you against the charges and ensure you are making the best decisions for your future. Schedule a free consultation by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.