When you are facing criminal charges in New Jersey, you don’t need to prove that you are innocent to avoid a conviction. Instead, all you need to do is prevent the prosecution from proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The burden of proof rests with the government, and if the government can’t meet its burden, you are entitled to walk free.
So, how do you prove the prosecution’s evidence is insufficient in a New Jersey criminal case?
Three Ways to Prevent the Government from Meeting Its Burden of Proof
If you hire a Morristown criminal attorney to represent you, your attorney will examine all available options for raising issues with the government’s case. Depending on the circumstances, these options may include:
1. Keeping the Government’s Evidence Out of Court
Various issues can render the government’s evidence inadmissible in court. For example, the police may have violated your Fourth Amendment rights during your arrest, or prosecutors may have impermissibly withheld exculpatory evidence before trial. If the government’s evidence is inadmissible (and your attorney fights successfully to keep it out of court), then prosecutors won’t be able to prove that you are guilty.
2. Showing that the Government’s Evidence Doesn’t Establish All “Elements” of the Crime
Under New Jersey law, all crimes consist of several “elements.” To secure a conviction, prosecutors must prove each of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt. If your attorney can show that the government’s evidence regarding any single element is lacking, then this should be enough to convince the judge or jury to return a verdict of “Not guilty.”
In many cases, New Jersey’s criminal statutes require proof of either knowledge or intent. This is the “criminal state of mind,” or “mens rea” element of the offense. Proving knowledge or intent can often prove challenging for prosecutors, and, as a result, attacking this element of the government’s case can often be an effective defense strategy.
3. Asserting an “Affirmative Defense”
A third option for preventing the government from meeting its burden of proof is asserting what is known as an “affirmative defense.” When you assert an affirmative defense, rather than disputing the prosecution’s evidence that you committed a criminal act, you argue that your actions were either justified or excused.
Self-defense is an example of an affirmative defense that can be used in cases involving charges of assault, domestic violence, manslaughter, murder and other violent crimes. If your attorney can prove that your use of force was justified under the circumstances, this can render the government’s evidence of your criminal act insufficient to warrant a conviction.
Discuss Your Case with Morristown Criminal Attorney Scott Gorman for Free
If you are facing a criminal charge in New Jersey, Morristown criminal attorney Scott Gorman can use his experience to protect you by all means available. To find out what defenses he can use to fight your case, call 973-796-3800 or request a free consultation online today.
Published in Categories: Criminal Defense