Before ever stepping foot inside a courtroom it is important that any accused or investigated for a sexual offense be aware of their legal rights and refrain from speaking to law enforcement before hiring an attorney. These charges are extremely serious, and as such warrant the attention of a DC federal sex crimes lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help prepare the defendant for what they should expect and ensure that a strong defense is built based on the facts and evidence of the case.
An opening statement in a DC federal sex crimes trial is a chance for the prosecutor and defense attorney to discuss the evidence that is going to be presented to the jury. From the defense perspective, it is a chance to present the theory of the defense to the jury, provide an outline of the case, and provide a perspective on the evidence.
In a federal sex crime trial in the United States, the government goes first and presents their evidence in its case-in-chief. The government’s case-in-chief can present witnesses and introduce electronic evidence such as pictures, audio recordings, or screenshots from the Internet. It can be difficult when a prosecutor would possible present evidence of child pornography or evidence of online chat between a person and an undercover officer because the chat can be explicit, so presenting a case in a trial can sometimes be nuanced and no one wants to stand alone in their trial.
Once the government presents each witness on what is called direct examination, the defense has an opportunity to perform a cross-examination. For example, if the government presents an FBI agent as a witness, the defense attorney has a chance to ask questions of that witness designed to show that the FBI did not do a thorough investigation or the evidence presented does not show what the prosecution alleges.
In a federal sex case trial in DC, the defense might choose to call an expert to testify about the processes of online platforms or for anything specific related to the case. There might be a forensic expert who can discuss electronic devices or computers seized as evidence or analyzed during the course of the government’s investigation. If the government chooses to call an expert, the defense can call an expert to refute that expert’s testimony.
The defense may have several goals in their case. A goal of the defense might be to show that the government’s evidence is not particularly strong. It might be to show that the government’s evidence does not prove the elements of the crime the defendant is charged with.
Another goal of the defense might be to affirmatively show that the person accused either was not at the location they are accused of being at or did not actually engage in the activity in which they are accused of engaging.
Closing statements occur at the end of the case after all of the evidence is presented by both sides. This is a chance for the prosecutor and the defense attorney to present arguments about the evidence the jury heard. In the opening statement, an argument is not permitted. However, in the closing statement, arguments can be made about what the evidence shows. Arguments can include inferences that can be reasonably drawn from the evidence.
Usually, the judge previously instructed the jury on what the law is and what they are going to decide, the elements of the DC federal sex crimes case. If for some reason the judge has not done that, the judge does that after the closing statements.
After hearing the instructions from the judge about the law and the elements of each charge, the jury deliberates in the jury room. They choose someone to act as their foreperson to guide the deliberation process for the jurors. The jurors analyze, discuss, and argue about the evidence. They may choose to ask questions or write notes to the judge with questions about the evidence or procedures in the trial that may or may not be answered. At some point, the jury comes to a verdict or they indicate that they cannot because they are deadlocked in some way.
If one juror has a reasonable doubt in a DC sex crimes trial, or something that gives that juror a reason to pause or hesitate in making an important decision in their life, that constitutes a reasonable doubt and that juror must vote not guilty. Each juror can have a different reasonable doubt. Jurors do not need to have the same doubt to find a reasonable doubt and vote not guilty in a case.