What Does Beyond a Reasonable Doubt Mean?
When you’ve been arrested, you need to go through the criminal court process all the way up until your charges are dropped or you’re actually convicted of a crime. Everyone’s process is different depending on the alleged crime they committed, their past record, and other specific circumstances surrounding their arrest.
Despite this, it’s very helpful to learn about what could happen as well as research what beyond a reasonable doubt means. Then you can decide how you want to proceed with your case. Either way, hiring an Oakland criminal defense attorney to help you with your charges could lead to a brighter future ahead for you.
Here’s some more information.
The Meaning of Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
When there is a trial for a criminal case, the prosecution needs to provide a standard of proof that the defendant is indeed guilty of their crimes. Then, that standard of proof is the level of certainty that each person serving on the jury needs to have before convicting the defendant of the crime. This is the highest standard that exists in our country’s legal system, because being convicted of a crime can have a devastating impact on someone’s life. The jury needs to ensure that they are certain the defendant is guilty.
In civil cases, the standard of proof is not so high. Sometimes, only “clear and convincing evidence” needs to be provided to demonstrate that there is a high probability that the situation being discussed is true. Another standard of proof called “preponderance of the evidence” makes the moving party demonstrate that what happened is more likely than not true.
In the U.S., someone is innocent until proven guilty. It is up to the prosecutor to show that the defendant is guilty. Many cases fall apart because the prosecutor is unable to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor does not have the required evidence needed, then they may be more willing to accept a plea bargain from the defendant.
What Is a Plea Bargain?
A majority of criminal cases in the U.S. end in plea bargains instead of going to trial. A plea bargain is an agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant in which the defendant will agree to plead guilty or no contest to some or all of the charges in exchange for reduced or dropped charges. Sometimes, a defendant will need to serve as a witness against another defendant in order to reach a plea bargain.
The reason why prosecutors would rather engage in a plea bargain than go to trial is because the courts are already strapped for resources and the jails are packed. This helps clear up the system a bit.
If a defendant breaks a plea bargain, then the prosecutor is no longer obligated to hold up the plea bargain. If the prosecutor tries to withdraw a plea bargain, then the defendant can turn to the judge for help. The judge could ensure that the prosecutor holds up the plea bargain or allow the defendant to withdraw their guilty plea.
What Is the Criminal Court Process in California?
Whether or not you’ve been charged with a crime in the past, you may be wondering about the criminal court process in California.
The first step is either an investigation or an arrest. For example, the police may obtain a search warrant to go through someone’s home to investigate and collect evidence of a crime. This could include the police receiving a tip that there is a meth lab in the neighborhood and then getting a search warrant to search through someone’s home for evidence. There, they could find meth as well as baggies, scales, and other paraphernalia for making and selling the drug. Subsequently, they could arrest the people in the home for the crime of making and distributing meth.
Other times, an arrest might occur because the police witness an individual doing something illegal. They might pass by a bar and see one person assaulting another, or see someone driving recklessly and use drug testing to determine that they were driving under the influence.
Once someone is arrested, they have the right to remain silent – this is called your Miranda rights. The police need to read you your Miranda warning letting you know you can stay silent as soon as they arrest you.
Going Through Arraignment and Bail
After you get arrested, the district attorney (DA) will need to press charges at an arraignment, or else you will be released. At your arraignment, along with hearing your charges, you can enter into a plea bargain if you like. You could enlist the help of an Oakland criminal defense attorney, use the free public defender, or choose to represent yourself.
Your bail will also be set around this time. If you want your bail reduced or eliminated altogether, then you’ll need to let the judge know why at your California bail hearing. The judge is going to weigh factors like the facts surrounding the case, your criminal record, how serious the offense is, and the chance that you’ll return to court for your proceedings.
The Pretrial Process
The pretrial process is where most cases are resolved through plea bargains and negotiations. Other parts of the pretrial process include going to court and going through discovery, where the prosecutor and your representation exchange evidence. It could also include motions, where one side requests that the judge takes a certain action.
The Trial Process
If you and your representation decide you want your case to go to trial, then it will be determined if you’ll get a bench trial or a jury trial. With a bench trial, the judge will be the jury and the judge. With a jury trial, 12 jurors will be selected to decide whether or not you are guilty. It is during this time that the prosecutor will have to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt if they want your conviction to go through.
A jury trial will typically include jury selection, opening statements, the prosecutor and your representation presenting their evidence, closing arguments, jury deliberations, and a verdict. If you’re found guilty of one or all of the charges, then sentencing will be the final step.
Keep in mind that you could request a new trial if there was jury misconduct or misconduct on behalf of the prosecutor, insufficient evidence, new evidence, or a mistake on behalf of the law by the court.
Appealing a Result
Another option is to appeal the verdict from your trial to a higher court. This does not mean a new trial will take place. The appellate judges are going to review the lower court’s verdict and see if any mistakes occurred. These could include jury or prosecutor misconduct or insufficient evidence, for instance.
Common Crimes in Oakland
Oakland is the 12th most dangerous city in the U.S., and typically ranks among the top cities for shootings, robberies, and homicide per capita. The chances that you’ll end up a victim of a violent crime in Oakland – including murder, assault, robbery, and rape — is 1 in 77. Other top crimes committed in Oakland include theft-larceny, motor vehicle theft, and burglary.
Whether you’ve been charged with one of these crimes or another crime in Oakland, you should take the right steps following your arrest and hire an Oakland criminal defense attorney to serve as your representation.
What to Do if You Get Arrested
If you’re arrested for a crime, then the first thing you should do is remain silent. Even if the police pressure you, don’t tell them anything. They could be showing up at your door without the proper search warrant or trying to search through your car without having any warrant whatsoever. This would be misconduct and you could implicate yourself for a crime if you say the wrong thing.
As soon as you’re taken to jail and given the opportunity to make a phone call, reach out to an Oakland criminal defense attorney. If you don’t know their phone number, call a family member or friend to get you their number or contact them on your behalf.
When you get out of jail, write down everything you remember about your arrest. What happened? Did the police read you your Miranda rights? Did they show you a warrant? The details could be very helpful when it comes to your plea bargain or winning your case.
Make sure you reach out to an Oakland criminal defense attorney ASAP, even if you think it’s too late. You never know how they could help you during your time of need.
Should You Use the Court-Appointed Public Defender?
Everyone who gets charged with a crime has the right to representation in the U.S. This means that if you can’t afford an Oakland criminal defense attorney, the court is going to provide you with a public defender.
Though it may seem like a good idea to save your money and use the public defender, it could end up having a very negative impact on your future. While public defenders are perfectly competent, they are overwhelmed with cases. They could be handling dozens of cases at one time, which means they won’t have the time and energy to devote to your case. You could be left in the dark at the very least or get a bad deal in the worst-case scenario because they didn’t give your case the proper attention. Instead, it’s best to go with private representation with years of experience dealing with cases like yours.
An Oakland criminal defense attorney is well worth the investment because they will dedicate their all to your case. They will be available to you to answer questions and walk you through the criminal court process. You will work together as a team to decide how you want to proceed and whether you want to take a plea bargain or go to trial. They will never push you to go one way or another if you aren’t comfortable. Instead, they will use their experience and give you advice to guide you on what they believe is the best move.
There is too much on the line to trust a court-appointed public defender with your case. You could spend time in jail or prison for years on end, be forced to pay high fines, and be put on probation. Your criminal record could make it difficult for you to get a job, secure housing, or pay for college, and you may lose the support of your family members and friends. To have the best chance at getting your charges reduced or dropped, find an Oakland criminal defense attorney with the results to back up their experience.
Hiring an Oakland Criminal Defense Attorney
To hire the best Oakland criminal defense attorney, look for one who has several years of experience with criminal cases along with outstanding results for their clients. Elliot Silver of Silver Law Firm would make an excellent representative for your case and help you in your time of need. All you need to do is review his past case results to see that he has the experience you need for your case.
In one case, attorney Elliot Silver represented a man who was accused of dangling his wife over a 15th story balcony. He negotiated with the prosecution, and in the end, his client agreed to participate in 52 weeks of domestic violence classes, plead to a misdemeanor, and time served.
In another case, when a client was charged with possession of a backpack filled with a handgun and marijuana, attorney Silver arranged for time served and to have the entire offense reduced to a minor misdemeanor.
If you’ve been charged with a crime and don’t know where to turn, reach out to Oakland criminal defense attorney Elliot Silver today at (510) 995-0000 or by emailing him at [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you with your case.