Jury Trial

In order to convict at trial, the prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Trial may be to a judge or a jury. Most cases do not go to trial, but are resolved through negotiation and compromise. However, some cases should and do go to trial. Either way, from the beginning of the case, the most important question is whether the prosecutor will have enough evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The weaker the proof, the stronger is the accused person’s bargaining power to reach an acceptable resolution without the stress, risk, uncertainty, and expense of going to trial.

At trial the prosecutor has the burden at trial to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  Only after all the evidence, statements of the lawyers, and instructions of law have been presented should the determination of whether the case was proven beyond a reasonable doubt begin. The presumption of innocence is to remain throughout the trial and leading up to deliberations. The defense attorney must do everything possible throughout every stage of the trial to make sure that the fact finder does not cast aside the presumption of innocence.

In order get obtain a conviction at trial, the prosecution must prove each part or "element" of a charge beyond a reasonable doubt. Because the "burden of proof" is always upon the prosecution, the accused person is never required to produce evidence in order to be found not guilty. At all times the judge or jury's focus is to be on the quality of the prosecution's evidence, measured by the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. No conviction can occur unless the judge or each jury member is convinced guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A verdict of Not Guilty is the same a judge or jury stating the the prosecution has not proven each and every element of a charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

Every juror must determine that the prosecution has or has not proven a particular charge beyond a reasonable doubt. If all jurors are unable to agree on a verdict now matter how long they deliberate, the jury is considered to be hopelessly deadlocked, a "hung jury." In this event, the judge declares a mistrial, and the prosecution is allowed to again bring the accused person to trial at a future date before a different jury.

 

 

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