Every person in the United States is presumed innocent until they are proven guilty, meaning you cannot be convicted of a crime unless you have been proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. Because of this, before jury members in Florida can even begin deliberations, they must study the Florida Supreme Court Standard Jury Instructions, which defines the numerous types of proof required in criminal cases.
If you or someone you care about has an upcoming criminal case in Florida, it is imperative that you secure legal representation from a qualified criminal defense lawyer. With over 30 years of experience, Criminal Defense Attorney Brian Gabriel understands all of the proof levels utilized in Florida criminal cases.
Types of Proof in Florida Criminal Cases
The five levels of proof in the Florida criminal justice system can affect how a trial will play out. They are as follows:
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
Prosecutors must present evidence proving a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to make a conviction. According to Florida’s jury instructions, beyond a reasonable doubt means if jury members have any hesitations about who is guilty, then the burden has not been satisfied. This could be caused by insufficient evidence or evidence that lacked enough substance to fully convince the jury.
Clear and Convincing Evidence
After reasonable doubt, the next level of proof is clear and convincing evidence. This level of proof is typically required in cases of domestic violence or where the defendant is appealing on the grounds of mental health issues. Petitioners looking to obtain a restraining order must persuade the court that the accusations they are bringing forth are genuine. Although the burden of proof for clear and convincing evidence is high, it is not as high as proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Preponderance of the Evidence
Preponderance of evidence is frequently used to verify that the suspect did partake in the activity that violated the terms of their probation. Conversely, if the accused person is seeking an affirmative defense for a crime, it is their burden to deliver proof based on the preponderance of evidence. Preponderance means there is a high probability that you violated parole or partook in an activity that could be compared to affirmative defense.
Police officers often use probable cause to convince judges that their investigation merits the issuance of a search warrant and to gauge whether they can place someone under arrest. The U.S. Supreme Court defines probable cause as more than just bare suspicion. This standard requires listing facts that can be used to convince any rational adult of the crime.
The last level of proof utilized in South Florida criminal cases is reasonable suspicion, which is a burden of proof police officers must meet to lawfully detain a person for investigation or interrogation. This standard requires detailed, articulable facts clearly suggesting criminal activity.
Challenge Evidence with a Knowledgeable Criminal Defense Attorney in Florida
Your Florida criminal defense attorney can guide you in understanding the legal jargon of your case and what goes on both in and out of the courtroom. The Florida criminal process has strict criteria for proving guilt, and Criminal Defense Attorney Brian Gabriel can create a solid defense strategy in order to fight diligently for your rights.
Mr. Gabriel will walk you through the process and help you understand how each level of proof applies to your specific case. He will handle your case using all the knowledge and skill developed over the span of his 30+ year career in criminal defense.
Start with a free consultation today by calling Criminal Defense Attorney Brian Gabriel of The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel at (561) 475-5952. You can also complete an online contact form to learn more.