Must-Know Facts About Criminal Cases In the US!

Criminal law is quite strict in the USA with severe penalties for the guilty. Although the original intent for the penalties was to punish the offender, the thought process behind the penalties has changed. Now there is an effort to reform the guilty individual.

However, the legal system of the US offers the accused a fair trial in the court to defend himself/herself. The accused is punished only if he/she is proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Here are facts about criminal cases:

  • A criminal case can be initiated only by the government in the US.
  • Any allegation against an individual for criminal conduct must be reported to a law enforcement authority like the FBI or local police, etc.
  • Before a court trial, there is a pretrial for the case wherein the judge assesses the arrest and post-arrest reports. Based on this data he determines whether there is reason to believe that the crime has been committed and that the accused is guilty of the crime. He then advises the accused about the charges against him/her.
  • He also decides whether or not the accused should be held in jail until the trial. If the judge decides that the defendant need not be held in jail before the court trial, the defendant will be subject to electronic monitoring, drug testing, and will need to visit the pretrial officer regularly before the actual trial.
  • The judge may appoint a defense lawyer in case the defendant cannot afford one.
  • The key players in a criminal case are:

    1. The prosecutor or the attorney appointed by the State. His role is to represent the State in criminal cases.
    2. A criminal defense attorney is a lawyer who represents the defendant. A criminal lawyer may be hired by the accused or the court may appoint one to defend the accused.
    3. The grand jury comprising 12 people who are citizens of the US. The jury decides whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty based on the evidence provided by the prosecution and defense.
    4. The court trial is held before a Judge. The Judge assesses the decision of the jury based on the legal aspects and decides the penalties.
  • In the American legal system, the burden of proof lies on the shoulders of the prosecuting attorney. In other words, the defendant does not have to prove his innocence but the prosecution needs to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecuting attorney presents evidence and witnesses to prove the defendant guilty.
  • During the court trial, the prosecution can use the pretrial data to support his case. However, he needs to ensure that he does not reveal the identity of the government sources that have shared the information.
  • If the defendant is proved guilty he is given a punishment based on the severity of the crime. The punishment may be a jail sentence or a fine to be paid to the government or restitution paid to the victims of the crime.
  • However, a not guilty verdict implies that he/she is released. However, the government cannot appeal in a higher court.

In case you find yourself in the shoes of the defendant in a criminal case, you can engage criminal lawyers from Autrey Law Firm!