But I’m Innocent!
What could be more unnerving than for an innocent person to be charged with a crime and hauled through the criminal justice system, particularly when a conviction could lead to imprisonment! That’s why it’s essential for suspects to utilize their Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent and request a local attorney at the first sign of an arrest.
Maybe They’ll Drop the Charges
The best outcome would obviously be for the investigators to quickly realize that they have the wrong person in custody and release you with apologies for the inconvenience—but don’t hold your breath waiting for that to occur, because it’s pretty rare. It’s possible the district attorney could hear a skeleton outline of the case before trial and conclude that there’s not enough evidence to secure a conviction, then instruct police to release you—but that’s not something you can count on either, nor is it necessarily a permanent solution, as they could always build their case and come after you later.
Maybe a Plea Bargain Will Come Through
Another possibility is a plea deal. While defendants who insist on their innocence may feel lukewarm about accepting a deal acknowledging guilt for a lesser crime, the advantages of a good plea bargain can make it worth contemplating. Whether you eventually accept a deal or not, it’s worth listening to and allowing your attorney to negotiate a positive outcome. If no deal is offered, or if you turn down an offer, you’re likely heading to trial.
Maybe You’ll Go to Trial
If you’ve watched enough TV courtroom drama you may think going to court is the most likely outcome, but the truth is that only a minority of cases ever make it to trial. Nearly 95 percent of state-level felony convictions are achieved through plea bargaining, and rates in federal cases are even higher. Only three- to six- percent of convictions arise from a jury trial according to the Marshall Project. If your case is one of the few to make it to trial, you can bet the prosecution is feeling pretty cool and confident about their case. The goal for any defendant, of course, is an acquittal, or a verdict of not guilty.
Getting the Verdict
It’s critical to keep in mind that every defendant is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. In a criminal trial the prosecution must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt for every element of the charges. In other words, the prosecutor must, through evidence presented to the jury, persuade them that there is no other reasonable explanation for the crime, ensuring the jury is effectively certain of a defendant’s guilt. The defense, on the other hand, simply has to convince the jury that there’s a realistic possibility that someone else might be guilty. If that happens a jury will find the defendant not guilty, and the court will acquit. That wraps it up, and you can never be tried on these charges again.
When There’s a Hung Jury
Sometimes juries struggle to come to an agreement on a verdict by the required voting margin when cases are particularly complex or emotional. While this is certainly a better outcome than a finding of guilt, it could mean having to go through the ordeal of a new trial. The agonizing decision to put more time and money into a whole new trial can be breathtaking. A skilled and aggressive defense attorney will pressure the prosecutor to drop the whole thing at this point, but that decision is exclusively in the prosecutor’s hands.
Fighting for You
The experienced Miami criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of Julia Kefalinos understand how nerve-wracking this can be and are committed to sticking by you and fighting for the best possible outcomes. To discuss your situation, schedule a confidential consultation in our Miami office today.