Florida Criminal Defense
If you have been accused of a criminal offense, the best thing you can do for yourself is to get an experienced criminal attorney working on your behalf. It is often said in the criminal justice system that a person who represents his or herself has a fool for a client.
Presumption of Innocence
A key principle that guides the criminal justice system is the presumption of innocence. It obliges prosecutors to demonstrate guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A jury is expected to weigh the evidence, or lack thereof, and deliver a verdict of which they are confident. If the verdict is guilty, every element of the crime must have been proven.
Elements of a Crime
Almost all crimes consist of at least three elements:
- A criminal act was committed;
- Criminal intent was present;
- The concurrence of both.
An individual’s conduct is generally examined in order to establish these elements. For example, if an individual were accused of storing industrial secrets on a personal computer, and then destroyed the computer when suspicions arose, that activity could be used to establish criminal intent.
Some crimes do not result in actual harm such as attempted murder. The attempt is criminal, but because it was an unsuccessful attempt no actual murder occurred. Nevertheless, the attempted act is a crime and can be prosecuted.
In cases where the crime did result in harm to others, further elements may be required to be proved. They include:
In defending a criminal case, various other aspects need to be analyzed and reviewed such as the characteristics of the victim(s) and the government’s theory of how and why the crime occurred.
Fundamentals of a Defense
While every case is different, a good attorney will build a defense by focusing on a number of basic points:
- Alibi: If a defendant was not in the vicinity of the crime, guilt cannot be established. Establishing a strong alibi can inarguably be the first line in a strong defense.
- Exculpating evidence: Sometimes it is clear that a defendant was at the scene of the crime, but the Defendant’s actions were attributable to self-defense, duress, consent, and/or mistakes of fact. These actions and factors could eliminate criminal intent.
- Challenging Testimony: The prosecution will call a number of witnesses whose testimony may be subject to challenge. This includes eyewitness testimony and witnesses who have a bias or motive to lie in the case. The classic example of this is the government witness who is looking to reduce his own sentence by testifying against a co-defendant.
- Challenging Physical Evidence: Issues regarding how physical evidence was identified, collected, and handled need to be reviewed and examined. Additionally, conclusions of government experts may be erroneous and need to be challenged through cross-examination and/or through the use of defense experts.
The criminal justice system is complex. If you have been charged with a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to examine the case and counsel you to the best possible resolution. Attorney Deric Zacca is an experienced criminal defense lawyer in both State and Federal Court. Contact Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer Deric Zacca today for a consultation.