Evidence is basically the way the prosecutors prove cases when they charge criminal defendants in Los Angeles County. They have to bring forth evidence. If they don't have evidence, they don't have a case. Even the defense can put on evidence to try to defend a criminal case. The defense doesn't have to put on any evidence in a criminal case in Los Angeles, they can basically rest on the state of the evidence, and if a jury believes that the prosecutor has not met their burden as to whatever the criminal charges are, then the case will be dismissed. The defendant will be found not guilty and that will be the end of it.
A lot of times I have clients come in and say I don't understand why my loved one is arrested. I don't understand why I'm arrested. They don't have any evidence against me. That person is saying I did it, but they don't have any evidence. What people don't realize is a single witness, if believable, if found reliable – and if whatever they say meets all the elements of a crime – can be enough evidence to prove somebody guilty in a criminal case. They don't always need photographs. They don't always need videos. They just need evidence.
The prosecutors decide who is charged and what they are charged for. Just like in a civil case. How can you be sued? Anybody can sue anybody at any time for anything. The prosecutors can charge whoever they want for a criminal offense. But in the end, that's why it's so important to get a great criminal defense attorney on your side. The prosecution has to prove the case. If they can't prove the case with whatever evidence they think they have, the person will be found not guilty.
So, the key is figuring out what evidence the prosecutors are going to use to try to prove the criminal case in front of a jury, and then being ready to attack that evidence. If it's a witness, get information about the witness, get information about why they might be saying whatever it is they're saying, and be ready to defend the case. If there's other evidence like video evidence, make sure you really look at the video evidence and ask yourself, does that really prove the case against the criminal defendant? Could the video have been altered? What does the video really mean in the big scheme of things as you're evaluating the evidence and looking at the case?
Evidence, as it is related to criminal cases, really is whatever the prosecutors can bring forward to show that somebody committed a crime. Just like for the defense – whatever evidence the defense can bring forth to show the person is innocent, they're going to bring that forth – whether that be through witnesses or through cross-examination, asking questions, asking the jury to use their common-sense – there are all kinds of different forms that evidence can take.
So, it's crucial that you realize what evidence is necessary to prove a criminal case, what evidence is necessary in order to defend a criminal case – but always remember – when it comes to criminal defense in Los Angeles, California – the people of the state of California through the prosecutors and police, have the burden to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. If they cannot prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant must be acquitted. The defendant must be found not guilty and the defendant must be set free.
So, if you want to talk about evidence related to your case, what evidence the prosecutors have, what evidence they don't have – don't forget, they don't need all the evidence. They don't need to have every piece of perfect evidence. Sometimes there's only so much evidence that is available. The question becomes in a criminal case, is the evidence sufficient to find the person guilty? Because if it's not, they're going to be found not guilty and they're going to have to be let go. But if it is, then it's a big problem and it's probably one of those circumstances where there's too much evidence and the defense attorney needs to sit down with the prosecutors and work out a plea bargain.
So, what I do right at the beginning of a case is, we sit down – myself, the client, any interested family members – and we talk about what evidence the prosecutors have, what evidence they don't have, what evidence we might be able to get through an investigation and some hard work, and then we talk about what it's all going to mean in the end. Can we win the case or not? If we can win the case and the client says, they're not guilty, then we're going to fight and take the case to trial and win it. If we can't win the case because the evidence is too strong against the client, we're going to work out a deal and move on with our lives.