The following is taken from an interview with a Loudoun County criminal defense attorney as they discuss what you should know regarding the prosecution of criminal cases in Loudoun County. To discuss what evidence may be presented against you and to begin building a defense, call and schedule a consultation today.
In court, the prosecution must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. This means they must prove all the elements of the offense for which you are accused beyond a reasonable doubt.
The burden of proof for criminal offenses is always in the hands of the commonwealth, which means that if they fail to present proper evidence or the evidence simply isn’t believable compared to the evidence presented by the defendant, then the court shall not find that person guilty.
Depending on the offense and where it occurred, the commonwealth must convince either a judge or a jury. In the Loudoun County General District Court, all misdemeanor matters are only bench trials which means you have no right to a jury trial in general district court, it is a court not of record.
However if your misdemeanor or felony offense is heard in the circuit court, any party may elect for a trial by jury. This means that if the defendant, commonwealth, or the judge think that the fact finder should be a jury, then the jury will hear the facts of the case and determine guilt or innocence. However, if all parties waive the jury and request for a bench trial, the judge sits in the role of the fact finder of the case.
The prosecution goes about proving their case in a criminal prosecution through the presentation of direct and circumstantial evidence. Oftentimes this is through testimony of the arresting officer and other officer witnesses, as well as fact witnesses and the presentation of forensic evidence such as:
Law enforcement officials collect evidence in a variety of ways. Oftentimes this is done through an investigation and may include pictures, videos, or items obtained through search warrants. In addition law enforcement officials have the ability to collect forensic evidence which is evidence collected via computer networks, cell phones, or other means.
Forensic evidence may also be collected from a vehicle during a traffic stop, a person’s body, or from their home. The evidence may include fingerprints, alleged drug material, drug paraphernalia, or other physical evidence that will lead one to believe that a crime has been committed.
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