As specified by the 5th amendment of the Constitution, any U.S. citizen who has been accused of a criminal offense has the right to have his or her case tried in front of a judge or jury. In addition, because you are innocent until proven guilty, the court must prove you are guilty—this is where the burden of proof comes into play. A failure to meet the burden of proof is also a common ground for appeal.

When a person is accused of a crime by the state and he hires a criminal defense attorney in Ohio, it becomes the responsibility of the state to prove his or her guilt in court. The prosecutor must submit evidence to support the state’s charge. As a result, the responsibility of proving the case—or in other words, the burden of proof—lies completely on the prosecution.  To convict someone of a crime, it is necessary that the state proves that the accused committed each and every element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If the state fails to prove, even one part of the offense at trial, the jury must find the defendant not guilty.

If the state fails to meet its burden of proof, the defendant must be acquitted. An acquittal is a judgment that a person is not guilty of the alleged crime. It’s a powerful verdict because under the rules of double jeopardy, an acquittal bars retrial of the same offense, even if new evidence arises.

Another possibility at trial is a mixed verdict or a hung jury. A hung jury is a jury that is not unanimous. In federal criminal cases, twelve jurors determine the guilt or innocence of an accused. In order for the verdict to be final, the jury vote must be unanimous. If only one juror does not agree with the other eleven jurors the jury is said to be “hung” and the case cannot be resolved at that trial. After a hung jury the state must decide whether it wants to retry the defendant at a later date. Sometimes the state decides that the split in the jury pool is too great a problem for it to overcome at another trial and opts not to retry the case- this may effectively end the case against the defendant, although it does not bar the government from revisiting the matter as long as it is recharged within the statute of limitations for that specific offense.

The Bottom Line:  At trial, a skilled criminal defense attorney may raise an affirmative defense although it is not necessary to do so. Affirmative defenses will normally center on facts other than those outlined and alleged by the prosecution. Sometimes, a well plead affirmative defense can defeat or mitigate the prosecution’s evidence and cast reasonable doubt into the jurors minds. Examples of such defenses include lack of intent, entrapment, insanity, self-defense, duress, compulsion, mistake, withdrawal in conspiracy, and, in some instances, intoxication.  Call me. 513.260.2099