The trial process for sexual assault cases in West Palm Beach begins when the case cannot be resolved any other way. If a case goes to trial, it is usually because the penalties are too harsh for the defendant to accept or simply that the accused is Not Guilty! As a result, the defendant would much rather take their chances at trial instead of accepting the potential penalties.
For help with preparing for trial following a sex crime accusation, be sure to get in touch with a legal professional at Leifert & Leifert today.
Depending on the charges and the length of the case, a judge will summon 50 random people from the community into a room and select the jury. The parties then interview each potential juror must select either six to 12 fair and partial people depending on the severity of the offense.
Fair and impartial members of the community will listen to the facts and the law, as instructed by the judge. They will then make a decision based upon the facts presented and the law, and the decision will determine whether the defendant is guilty or not. We always argue for Not Guilty obviously.
Once a jury is selected, the state will have an opportunity to make an opening statement as to what they believe the evidence will show and why they think that the alleged or the defendant is guilty. They will summarize their arguments as to why they think they have a good case.
The defense attorney will then have an opportunity to make their argument as to why they believe the defense is not guilty of the charges presented. Once opening statements are done, it is then the prosecutor’s turn to present the evidence.
Presentation of Evidence and Witnesses
Evidence can consist of scientific testimony, physical evidence, photographs, independent DNA and blood tests, etc. If the prosecution has a list of witnesses they wish to question in front of the court, they may do so. Once the prosecution has presented their witnesses and asked the questions they wanted to ask, the defense can cross-examine each of those witnesses. After the defense has cross-examined any witnesses testifying on behalf of the prosecution, the defense will present any witnesses who would be testifying in their favor as well as present any evidence that would work in their favor. If they so choose, the prosecution would then have the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses brought forth by the prosecution. The Defendant does not have to put on a Defense as the burden of proof rests entirely with the Government
Motion for Acquittal
After all the evidence has been presented by both sides, the defendant should make a motion for judgment of acquittal. By doing so, the defense would be stating that there is legal no way that a jury can find the defendant guilty. Typically, this motion is denied, but there are cases where it is granted. Once the motion has been filed, a determination will be made by the judge as to whether or not there is sufficient evidence to proceed. If the case cannot go forward, the defendant will get acquitted.
Then, each lawyer has an opportunity to make an argument to the jury or judge as to why the prosecutor thinks that the defendant is guilty and why the defense lawyer believes that the jury should find the defendant not guilty.
During the closing arguments, the prosecutor will usually go first followed by the defense attorney. Once the defense has made their closing argument, the prosecution will be able to offer a rebuttal to the defense’s closing argument. The closing arguments will typically consist of both sides summarizing all the evidence they have presented and reminding the jury what to focus on when they leave the courtroom to make a decision.
After the closing arguments are made, the judge will then instruct the jury on the law of the case, the rules for deliberation, and the process by which they must go through in order to make a legal verdict in the case.
Jury Instruction and Verdict
After the jury has received their instructions, they will be sent back to a jury deliberation room with a written copy of those instructions. Any physical evidence that was presented in the case will also go back in the jury room for them to examine. When they come to a unanimous decision, it is written down on the verdict form and will be presented to the court. After the trial, the judge will move to a sentencing phase on that date, if it is a mandatory sentence based upon the law, or a later date if there is some discretion as to what the sentence is going to be.
Get in Touch with an Attorney Today
The trial process for sexual assault cases in West Palm Beach could prove to be difficult to navigate through without the help of an attorney. For example, you will need their experience when gathering evidence to increase the solidity of your defense, but also for cross-examining witnesses and communicating with the prosecution and judge on your behalf.
If you have been charged with this type of offense, be sure to get in touch with one of our attorneys at Leifert & Leifert today.