When someone is charged with a crime, the decision to charge them is based on the evidence that the State has in the case. Whether you are negotiating for a plea agreement, or arguing a case in front of a jury, the evidence in the case will be of the utmost importance.
Forms of Evidence
Evidence comes in many forms such as (but not limited to):
- Statements made by the defendant or victim
- Eye witness statements
- Forensic evidence, such as DNA, gun shot residue, or blood work
- Electronic records such as text messages, e-mails, or social media communications
Generally, a prosecutor would prefer not take a case to trial unless they believe that they have enough evidence to receive a conviction at trial. That being said, there are certain types of cases in which having evidence is more common, such as charges related to property theft, where delayed reports in sexual assaults tend to have less evidence.
The Weight of Evidence
What tends to be more important than the amount of evidence is the weight that the evidence carries. Some evidence can be more damaging, while other evidence can be much more circumstantial. A defense attorney can help you understand what evidence exists in your case, and what it means for you.
If there is a report of a crime it is the police who investigate it. After they have investigated the allegations, they submit their reports to the district attorney’s office that makes the decision on whether or not someone is charged. This decision is normally made based on the evidence that has so far been collected, as well as what might be found should the investigation continue. A defense attorney will also be able to determine if the evidence was collected properly. If it was not, they can file motions to keep that evidence from being used against you. While this is theoretically possible at most points in a case, the sooner you are able to consult with a defense attorney, the better.