Prosecution of Norfolk Criminal Cases
The prosecution in Norfolk, Virginia has the burden of proof, which means that it is their job to prove that the defendant is guilty. The defendant does not have to prove anything, and in fact may remain silent throughout the entire proceeding if they wish.
To prove the defendant’s guilt, the prosecution has to show that each particular element of the crime in question has been met without a reasonable doubt. Elements are what make up a particular crime.
For example, there is a law that states that no person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway without a valid license. The elements that need to be met to find someone guilty of driving without a valid license are that the defendant was driving a motor vehicle on a highway and without a valid license.
If the prosecution does not show that each of the four parts is satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt, then the accused is not guilty. Speaking with a Norfolk criminal lawyer will clarify additional questions you may have about your case.
How the Prosecution Proves Their Case
The prosecution in Norfolk goes about proving their case by using evidence to support the charges. This evidence can come in a whole lot of different forms, which will depend on what type of case it is.
In almost every case the prosecutor will present testimony from witnesses who were present or who have information about the event. This usually is from the police officer who caught the defendant or some victims of the crime.
If the charges are being heard in the General District Courts, which means that it is a misdemeanor, they have to convince the judge because it is a bench trial. If they are heard in the Circuit Court for a felony, then prosecutors must prove their cases to either a jury. Appeals against misdemeanors in Norfolk can also be heard in front of a judge.
The prosecutors have a team of investigators that can collect evidence for them in bigger cases. Sometimes evidence comes directly from the victims of the crime or from officers who made the arrest.
One of the most commonly used types of evidence is testimony, but it depends on the case itself. If it is reckless driving it is going to be primarily testimony from the officers. A murder trial will probably have a lot more pieces of evidence testimony than a simpler misdemeanor charge.
Forensic evidence is also often used by both prosecutors and defenders to prove their respective cases. In Norfolk DUI cases, the blood alcohol content is standard. For possession of marijuana cases, the plant material analysis is also standard. The specific facts of bigger cases will determine if there is a need for other forensic evidence. Sometimes fingerprint evidence may be used in a grand larceny case, or DNA evidence in a murder case. Technology is constantly advancing so there is constantly more types of evidence that can be used.
Expert witnesses are not used very often in smaller crimes like misdemeanors. They do come into play a lot when there is something that hasn’t been heard in court before and a prosecutor or Norfolk criminal lawyer needs someone to backup testimony. In bigger cases, such as homicides, experts are used fairly regularly. Norfolk prosecutors use expert witnesses in some situations.
Expert witnesses differ from regular witnesses because they have a certain qualification in their respective fields. Usually, regular witnesses are only allowed to testify as to the facts that they witnessed first-hand. The prosecution can also present forensic evidence such as fingerprints or blood alcohol content or the chemical analysis of a drug or DNA evidence.
Benefit of Hiring a Norfolk Criminal Lawyer
The benefit of hiring an experienced Norfolk criminal lawyer is the benefit of having somebody on your side who knows what they are doing and has done it before. For someone facing criminal charges in Norfolk, it is beneficial to their case to have an attorney that knows the local prosecutors and judges.
Some judges have nuances that you don’t know if you haven’t been in front of them or watched them several times before. Some judges are very open to certain defenses whereas some will not listen to them at all. It is definitely a good thing to have someone who is aware of these nuances and to use them to your advantage.