San Diego Criminal Defense Trial Attorney

San Diego Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer
Though only 5% of criminal cases will proceed all the way to trial, fighting your case all the way may prove to be the best strategy to achieve the best possible outcome.  Even in cases with strong evidence, the right to a jury trial is the defendant's single greatest piece of leverage in negotiations.  Some criminal cases are dismissed due to defense motions to dismiss or to suppress evidence.  For those that result in a guilty or not guilty plea, .  If a matter is not dismissed or resolved for a favorable plea negotiation, the matter may proceed to a jury trial.  Winning a jury trial will mean an acquittal of the charges.  A skilled trial lawyer must have a strong grasp of the law, evidence code, modes of persuasion, as well as a strong ability to confront prosecution witnesses.  Success at trial requires meticulous preparation, thorough investigation, an understanding of jury selection, and an ability to persuade that jury of the true meaning of topics like "reasonable doubt," "circumstantial evidence," and the presumption of innocence.  If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a crime, contact a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney now for a Free Consultation.  619-930-9515.

There are many different motions in criminal cases.  Many are litigated right before trial, known as motions in limine.  Pretrial motions are an important step in trials, because here the judge will decide what evidence the jury may or may not hear during the course of the trial.  Rather than waiting to object (when it may be too late), it is better to make the arguments pretrial, out of the presence of the jury.  Some issues that may come up are admissibility of certain statements made out of court, admissibility of the defendant's prior convictions if the defendant testifies, the ability of an expert witness to give an opinion, and more.

The twelve people selected to the jury in a criminal case will have a tremendous responsibility on their shoulders, and a difficult decision to make.  Attorneys on both sides are given an opportunity to question potential jurors in order to determine who can be fair and who would be favorable to the defendant.  Jurors who cannot be fair can be stricken "for cause" and there is no limit to the number of jurors who can be removed for this reason, so long as the judge agrees that the juror in question has an inherent bias.  "Peremptory" challenges to a prospective juror are limited in number (10 per side), but can be made for any reason (except discriminatory reasons).  An attorney who can argue for challenges for cause as well as effectively use peremptory challenges to pick the jury will have a major impact on the case.  Jury selection is considered to be one of the most important stages in a jury trial.

Once a jury is selected in sworn in, each side gets an opportunity to give an opening statement.  This statement is more or less an introduction to each side's theory of the case.  The prosecution will present its opening statement first, followed by the defense.  The defense may elect to reserve its opening statement until the government has completed its case, but this is rarely done.  Typically, it is better to use the opening statement to get the jury to look at the evidence with the defense theory of the case in mind.  The opening statement is one of the limited opportunities to talk to the jury directly, and is vital to a successful criminal trial.

After opening statements, the prosecution has the burden to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  The government will call witnesses or submit into evidence any admissible documents or other evidence that would be relevant to proving the defendant's guilt.  At this time, the defense must object to any inadmissible statements or evidence as well cross-examine and impeach the government's witnesses. 

The defense gets an opportunity to present a case of its own after the prosecution puts on its case.  The defense has the same power to subpoena witnesses and can recall government witnesses, call its own witnesses, call expert witnesses and the defendant may testify on his/her own behalf.  It is important to note that the defense does not have any burden of proof, and need not put on any case of its own in order to prevail at trial.  If the government fails to make its case, through effective cross examination and defense objections, it may not be necessary at all to put on a defense case.

Once both sides have presented their evidence, each side gets an opportunity to argue their case to the jury.  The prosecution gets the first opportunity to close, then the defense makes its closing argument.  After the defense makes its closing argument, the prosecution gets the final word, known as a rebuttal.

The jury is instructed on the law and sent to deliberate.  Jury deliberations can take a very long time depending on the amount and complexity of the evidence presented.  The jury can return a verdict of guilty, not guilty or may be unable to reach a unanimous verdict.  When the jury cannot agree on a verdict (known as a "hang" or "hung jury"), the court will declare a mistrial.  The judge may dismiss a case if the jury does not reach a verdict, or the prosecution may refile the charges.  If the jury returns a not guilty verdict, the defendant is acquitted.  If the jury returns a guilty verdict, the case will then proceed to sentencing.

If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a crime in San Diego, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable, experienced San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer.  Contact an attorney now for a Free Consultation.

Nicholas M. Loncar, Esq.
San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney
San Diego DUI Lawyer
T: 619-930-9515
By Nicholas Loncar     


Your comment will be posted after it is approved.

Leave a Reply