Beyond a Reasonable Doubt – The Standard in Criminal Proceedings

The presumption of innocence is a cornerstone of the American legal system. When an individual has been charged with a crime, he or she is Innocent until proven guilty. Criminal defendants often face serious punitive consequences, including the death penalty. Therefore, the burden of proof is highest in criminal cases -higher than in any other area of the law. Though capital punishment is no longer used in Illinois, criminal convictions can still result in life-altering consequences for those charged. The standard of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt ensures that only the guilty are convicted.

Legal dramas on television often lead viewers to believe that the victim of a crime must press charges against the perpetrator. However, this is not entirely accurate. Victims can file a police report and cooperate in the prosecution of an offender, but the government is who decides whether or not to pursue a conviction. The prosecution may be handled by a United States Attorney in federal court or by the State’s Attorney in any Illinois County. If a prosecutor files formal charges against a suspect, the burden of proof is on the prosecution. The term “burden of proof” means the obligation to prove one’s allegation. So, the attorneys for the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime he or she is accused of committing. A defendant is not required to prove his or her innocence in the same way—or at all.

What Is a Defense Attorney’s Role?

In the United States, everyone is entitled to a legal defense—usually led by a defense attorney. Defense attorneys are especially important to criminal cases because the prosecution has the burden of proof, or the burden of proving their case. Defense attorneys ensure that the rights of the defendant are not compromised and that proper court procedures are followed. They represent the defendant and act on his or her behalf. Defense attorneys also advise the defendant in regard to the best legal approach for the situation and explain the legal processes as they occur. A defense attorney may review police reports, indictments, arrest records, and affidavits to for inconsistencies or inaccuracies. He or she may also challenge or refute the arguments brought by the prosecution. A skilled defense attorney can be the difference between a guilty and not guilty verdict.

Contact a Skilled Lawyer

If you are facing criminal charges, you do not have to navigate the complicated legal system alone. An experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney will fight for your rights and help you make the best decisions possible for your unique situation. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation.

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