It is common knowledge, thanks to popular television shows, that the prosecutor has to prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. What does "beyond a reasonable doubt" actually mean? The judge, in a bench trial, or the jury, in a jury trial, must have no reasonable doubt about the guilt of the accused after hearing all of the evidence. Reasonable doubt can be established at trial by a criminal defense attorney, but what the judge or jury will ultimately decide is often difficult to predict.
Anyone facing criminal charges should consider hiring a lawyer. Lawyers understand the precise legal meaning of "beyond a reasonable doubt" and are familiar with applicable laws and precedents set by other cases. A knowledgeable and experienced defense attorney will understand which strategies would best show the judge or jury that there is reasonable doubt and that the accused is not guilty. Many aspects of the law are designed to help prosecutors and police investigate and prosecute crimes, so it is important to have an attorney present to protect your rights in court.
People facing criminal charges often believe that if the verdict is not ruled in their favor, they will get a second chance through an appeal. These same people also mistakenly think that they can represent themselves better than a lawyer could. Appeals are not guaranteed and can take years to be decided. If you unsuccessfully represent yourself, you will not receive special treatment, sympathy, or a lighter sentence because you did not have an attorney. Few people have the training and knowledge necessary to successfully represent themselves, which is hiring an attorney would be more beneficial for your case.
Too many people are wrongfully convicted because of mistakes by judges and juries. You take a serious risk if you do not have an attorney represent you. Most criminal lawyers offer a free consultation. These consultations allow you to meet with the lawyer and discuss your case without an obligation to hire that lawyer. Seeking a free consultation will help you choose the right attorney for your case. Reasonable doubt is a difficult legal concept, but if you contact a lawyer today, you will be one step closer to determining whether there is reasonable doubt in your criminal case.