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Burden of Proof in a Criminal Jury Trial: Who has it and What is it?

A Criminal trial is a contest, with a winner and a loser. The People, or the Plaintiff, bring the charges against a person known in the system as a defendant. The defendant seeks a not guilty verdict or an acquittal at trial. In order for the government to win and get a guilty verdict, they must convince the jury of the defendant's guilt (never agree to have your case tried to a judge - always insist on the biggest jury possible). But how much proof is necessary?

The District Attorney has the Burden of Proof at Trial

The DA must prove the elements of their criminal case in Arapahoe or Douglas County or the defendant goes free with a not guilty verdict. The defendant does not need to prove anything. In fact, the defendant could sit back and do nothing at the jury trial. If the government does not meet their burden of proof, they lose. They are making the accusations and must have sufficient evidence to convict someone of serious crimes like theft, assault or burglary.  Read more here of When You are Entitled to a Jury Trial.

How Much Proof is Enough Proof at a Criminal Trial?

What if the government were to just offer some proof that a defendant committed a crime? Would that be enough? Usually not for a criminal conviction. The government must prove their case "beyond a reasonable doubt." The definition of this term is very important, so let's look at it here:

"Reasonable doubt means a doubt based upon reason and common sense which arises from a fair and rational consideration of all of the evidence, or the lack of evidence, in the case. It is a doubt which is not a vague, speculative or imaginary doubt, but such a doubt as would cause reasonable people to hesitate to act in matters of importance to themselves."

The Role of a Criminal Defense Lawyer at Trial in Adams and Jefferson County

Good criminal defense attorneys are trial lawyers who have ways to clearly illustrate this standard to a jury. It is huge in deciding the guilt or innocence of a defendant. The District Attorney must offer so much evidence that a "reasonable doubt" is removed or gone. That is why we require "proof beyond" a reasonable doubt. An excellent criminal defense lawyer in Denver will show the jury how reasonable doubt still exists, through the use of definitions of legal terms, couching evidence in a favorable light to the defense, impeaching witnesses, and clear reasoning.

If you have a criminal jury trial coming up, look for a defense attorney who is a good communicator and has been there before. You want someone you can have confidence in. Your life is in their hands. Call us at 303-731-0719, for a free initial consultation at our north Denver or south Denver offices. Together, we can protect your future.

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