Every defendant has said it, but you know it to be true: you’re innocent. The charges being brought against you have little to no grounding in reality, and your spotless record has been marred by some overzealous police and prosecutors. You have neither the time nor money to face trial, but you can’t afford to take a plea deal. Is it possible to forgo all of this and have your charges dismissed out of hand? Your St. Louis criminal defense attorney is on the case!
Many people believe that the entire criminal justice system is rigged from point to point and that getting your charges dropped is a matter of knowing the right people. Maybe you or your attorney have friends in high places, or your attorney cuts a deal under the table with the prosecutor, or your attorney is friendly with the judge trying your case. While we would all like to believe that these things never happen, they indeed do. But that’s not how your defense attorney will be getting your charges dropped. It’s a matter of investigation and legal research, not back-scratching and shady bargains.
The core of the process is that your criminal defense attorney must demonstrate to the prosecutor that proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt is impossible. You’ve heard that phrase, “beyond a reasonable doubt.” But what does it mean? First and foremost, it means the burden of proof rests on the prosecutor’s shoulders. When you hear that you, as your defense attorney’s client, are “innocent until proven guilty,” that platitude really means “innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” That is the threshold at which the jury must change their presumption from innocent to guilty: when the prosecution has demonstrated that there is no reasonable doubt that you are, in fact, guilty. They must eliminate any reasonable possibility that involves you being innocent of the charges of which you are accused.
But what charges have you been accused of? And how does your St. Louis criminal defense attorney know where to begin? Maybe you’ve been charged with a battery, robbery, burglary, or grand theft. The prosecutor has perused the evidence that the police gave them, and after reviewing that information, those are the charges they decide to file against you. Your defense attorney has access to this evidence as well and can request it through a process called discovery. Discovery documents can be anything, from closed-circuit television footage to eyewitness accounts, to credit card statements, or phone records, or photographs—anything relevant to the crime. The defense attorney goes through this evidence to attempt to demonstrate to the prosecutor that it will be impossible to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. One of the best ways to execute this is to call into question the integrity or veracity of a central piece of evidence. Many cases are built around only a few pieces of solid evidence, if that, and poking a hole in one can cause the case against you to fall flat. If the star of the case is a witness, that person might be untrustworthy or non-credible. Maybe your credit card had been used, but abnormal activity was recorded on your account prior to the alleged incident. There are many ways to demonstrate that evidence is not as rock-solid as it may seem. And if your St. Louis criminal defense attorney is able to convince the prosecutor to drop your charges before trial, you might just be saved quite a bit of trouble.