Building Your Defense FAQ
You and your attorney will have a lot to discuss as you meet to prepare your case. Most important of all is preparing a defense to the charges against you. The sooner you meet with your defense attorney, the sooner you can begin preparing a strategy.
What goes into a defense case?
The most important aspect of a criminal defense case is the presumption of innocence. Any person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution. This is why working with your attorney to build a defense to the charges is crucial.
What Types of Evidence are Used in a Criminal Case?
The main form of direct evidence against a defendant is an eyewitness who testifies that he saw, heard, or otherwise witnessed the crime taking place. This is called direct evidence because it directly shows the truth with no leaps of logic.
Witnesses can also be called for the defense, such as an alibi who is able to testify that the defendant was not at the scene of the crime, or to refute any circumstantial allegations raised by the prosecution.
Aside from direct evidence, all other evidence is considered circumstantial. While it is commonly thought that circumstantial evidence “doesn’t count,” in the court of law it can be equally as powerful as direct evidence.
Fingerprints, DNA, videotape, photographs and items found at the crime scene are all considered circumstantial, as they only point to what occurred, but they can be powerful when deciding guilt or innocence.
Will I Have to Take the Stand?
While many defendants think taking the stand will give them the opportunity to clear their name and deny the allegations, this can certainly be true, but it can also be more complicated than this. Because most people are understandably nervous giving testimony under oath in a courthouse, the opportunity for something to go wrong is very real.
Taking the stand also gives the prosecution the chance to ask you questions directly – which can be a dangerous proposition.
And any half-truths told on the stand can bring about perjury charges, which can bring serious penalties – even if you’re cleared of all other charges.
You and your attorney can discuss the tactic of having you take the stand, but you have the right to refuse to testify.