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Understanding Burdens of Proof for Criminal Cases in Florida

 
11/02/2021
Weinstein Legal
Read Time: 6 Minutes

When you are charged with a crime, the other party has what is known as a burden of proof. But what is the burden of proof in a criminal case, and how is it met? The criteria and standards differ between civil lawsuits and criminal cases, and it is essential to know which you will be facing on your day in court. In the state of Florida, for criminal cases, the opposing party must prove you are guilty of the alleged crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

If you are facing criminal charges of any sort, whether it be for identity theft or assault, drug possession, or an illegal driving offense, contact Weinstein Legal and ask for attorney Matt Shafran today. Mr. Shafran is head of the criminal defense division at the law firm and has years of experiencing defending a wide variety of cases. Additionally, Mr. Shafran formerly acted as a prosecutor, meaning that he is well-familiar with the tactics that the opposing side will attempt to use to prove your guilt in court.

The unfortunate reality is that a criminal conviction, no matter how minor or significant the offense, can have long-lasting and far-reaching impacts on your life. Sometimes, the consequences can follow you around forever. Not only will you have to serve your legally mandated sentence, determined by the courts, but you will likely face great social consequences such as damage to your reputation as well. Do not take this chance and face the courts alone. Mr. Shafran is ready and willing to aggressively fight your case, ensuring that the courts present the proper evidence and meet their burden of proof.

Call Weinstein Legal to receive a free case evaluation free of any obligation. We will review the unique facts of your case, any relevant past criminal history, extenuating circumstances that may affect sentencing, and explain the burdens of proof in a criminal case so that you know what to expect heading into court. Our phones are open 24-hours a day, 365-days a year, and there will never be a time when you cannot access your attorney. Call 954-845-0505 and ask for Matt Shafran, criminal defense attorney in South Florida.

What Does "Burden of Proof" Mean?

In a criminal court case, the burden of proof rests with the prosecution (or the state). What this means is that the opposing side, usually the local government or law enforcement agency, must provide facts and evidence that establish beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of committing the crime that they allege.

"Burden of proof," according to the legal definition, sets forth who in a court case is responsible for providing such evidence. It also outlines the level of evidence that the responsible party must provide in order to effectively substantiate their claim. During criminal court proceedings, the prosecutor's office represents the plaintiff while you are on trial as the defendant.

In this case, the phrase "beyond a reasonable doubt" is known as the standard of proof. Each element of the alleged crime must be supported by evidence and presented to the judge or jury, whichever party will be issuing a judgment of verdict against you. The standard of proof in criminal cases throughout Florida and the greater United States is the highest existing standard. In fact, it is outlined and protected by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, under the Due Process clause.

What Does "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" Mean?

When looking at burdens of proof in a criminal case and acknowledging that such burden rests with the plaintiff or the prosecutor and that the standard of proof is "beyond a reasonable doubt," it is common for individuals to next ask what precisely this means. Does "beyond a reasonable doubt" mean that no judge or member of the jury may have any shadow or sliver of the question left in their mind after all evidence is set forth? Not exactly.

To prove something beyond a reasonable doubt using the burdens of proof in a criminal case means that the prosecution can convince a judge or jury that no other reasonable verdict can come from the evidence they present throughout the case. Still, this leaves some ambiguity and can cause confusion among jury members as well as defendants.

Establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt can be challenging, but generally, it means that no stone is left unturned. Jury members or a judge reach their verdict without speculation or conjecture, without bias or prejudice, using reason, common sense, and impartial consideration of either clear and convincing evidence or lack of evidence.

What Is Clear and Convincing Evidence?

You may also hear "clear and convincing evidence" referred to as "credible evidence" and wonder what this means in regard to burdens of proof in criminal cases. Not only must the plaintiff prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant is guilty, but they must do so using a certain benchmark of evidence.

In United States' courts, judges must only admit evidence that is clear, convincing, and credible. This means that such evidence is either entirely certain or highly probable. Examples include DNA testing, fingerprints, video surveillance footage, and so on. This evidence must also be relevant to the case and must support an argument.

Additionally, the source of the evidence must be trustworthy. The courts must be able to believe that the evidence is truthful and reliable and that the results are accurate. For example, was forensic testing performed at an accredited lab? Is there any suspicion that the video surveillance could be altered or edited? These are all questions that a well-versed criminal defense attorney will know to ask during your legal proceedings.

What Is Probable Cause?

Furthermore, the United States has strict standards and guidelines that dictate how investigators may gather information and evidence. All evidence that a prosecutor admits to a criminal court proceeding must be obtained with probable cause. This refers to "the standard by which police have reason to obtain a warrant for the arrest of a suspected criminal or the issuing of a search warrant." Additionally, probable cause refers to the standard by which a grand jury may issue a criminal indictment.

Probable cause is mentioned in the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution in regard to your right to protection against unlawful search and seizure. The purpose of probable cause, and the overarching Fourth Amendment, is to protect the American people against abuses of legislative power, to promote the legal and fair gathering of evidence, and finally, to ensure the correct procedural form during the prosecution of all criminal cases.

How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

If you are facing criminal charges of any kind, it is essential that you contact a defense attorney as soon as possible to review the facts of your case along with any crucial evidence. Remember, the courts must prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In fact, they must have sufficient evidence to bring you before a judge in the first place. Unfortunately, many individuals do not have aggressive and diligent legal representation fighting to protect their rights and are wrongfully tried and convicted each year. Do not allow this to happen to you.

Get a Free Case Evaluation

Contact Weinstein Legal today for a free case evaluation with absolutely no obligation. Criminal defense attorney in Palm Beach & Broward County Florida Matt Shafran is ready to fight your case and will stop at nothing to prove your innocence. Here at Weinstein Legal, we have access to a wide range of legal experts, including private investigators. We will ensure that we adequately examine each element of your case and go searching for any and all evidence that will exonerate you in a court of law.

Our phones are available 24-hours a day, so no call for help will ever go unanswered.

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