Evidence, Conflict in Evidence, Lack of Evidence
Evidence, Conflict in Evidence, Lack of Evidence.
Every jury is told by the judge that, "A reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the defendant may arise from the evidence, conflict in the evidence, or the lack of evidence. The State always has the burden of proving that you are guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. You do not have to prove anything. However, to defend yourself, you would present evidence, spotlight the State's lack of evidence, and focus the jury's attention on the conflicts in the State's evidence, all which can lead to a reasonable doubt, and therefore a not guilty verdict.
It seems like a simple questions with a simple answer, however, many people do not understand what is and is not evidence in a criminal case. Evidence includes witness testimony, documents, video recordings, audio recordings, records, and anything else that is presented in a trial to convince the jury to render a verdict of guilty or not guilty. Most people don't understand that the testimony of 1 single witness is evidence, and could be enough to convict a person of any crime, if the jury believes that witness' testimony that you committed the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
You also can present evidence to defend against the State's allegations. You can present witnesses, documents, video recordings, audio recordings, records, DNA, and anything else that is admissible under the Rules of Evidence. The jury may believe beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime, but may change their mind one you've presented your evidence. For example, the State may have called a witness who sounded believable and established in the jury's collective mind that you committed the offense, however, you may present a witness who calls the State witness's testimony into question. For example, the State may call a witness who testifies that she's sure the light was red when you went through the intersection and struck someone in a vehicular manslaughter case. That witness may be very believable. However, you may present another witness who had a better perspective and is also very believable who testifies that the light was green. This evidence may cause the jury to have a reasonable doubt.
Conflicts in the evidence are very important for defense attorneys to use to establish reasonable doubt. When people testify at trial, they have often been prepared by the prosecutor. They are usually very firm in their testimony and confident in what they are testifying about. By trial time, the minor conflicts have usually been ironed out by the prosecutor and the witnesses are all pretty consistent. This is where depositions and precise investigation comes in. Prosecutors don't typically prepare their witnesses for depositions like they do for trial. There will often be many conflicting statements between different witnesses, between one witness's deposition testimony and trial testimony, and between witness testimony and physical evidence. These conflicts can add up, and often do, to reasonable doubt. However, it is the prior meticulous preparation before trial that pays off during trial.
One of the arrows in almost every defendant's quiver is the lack of follow through on the part of law enforcement. Once an arrest is made, the case is handed off to the State Attorney's Office. The prosecutor can request further investigation be done, but there is often a culture where prosecutors and officers expect everyone to plead guilty, so little to no investigation is done after the arrest. Then, if the prosecutor gets close to trial and feels like the case is likely to go to trial, they often then begin to work the case up. However, many times it is too late to undue the damage already done. For example, in a burglary case, evidence may not have been preserved for fingerprints. In a robbery case, law enforcement may not have obtained surveillance video from surrounding businesses. Evidence may not have been processed. Witnesses may not have been questioned. Other evidence may have been lost because law enforcement didn't retrieve and preserve it. Any lack of evidence would be attributed to the State because they have the burden of proof and lack of evidence can create a reasonable doubt.
Each case is different and what is important in one case may not be important in another. Many conflicts in the evidence arise after thorough, well prepared depositions are taken of witnesses. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and what evidence, conflict in the evidence and lack of evidence may help you defend your case.
Evidence, Conflict in Evidence & Lack of Evidence,
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