The trial process in federal criminal cases is serious. When a case goes to trial in federal court, it is not for the purpose of going through the motions or an exercise for the lawyers to get experience. It is the result of a significant expenditure of resources on the government’s part to investigate a situation and decide to file charges. To continue that investigation, the government uses the resources of the court system, judges, clerks, staff, facility, and security. The government also relies on prosecutors who are tasked with proving Maryland federal criminal cases. If an individual has been charged with a federal offense, they should consult a capable federal criminal attorney that could work just as vigilantly to disprove the prosecution’s case.
When proving Maryland federal criminal cases, the prosecution needs to prove that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt which is the same standard in state court. In fact, this is the standard of proof for all criminal courts in the United States, from a local court all the way up to the Supreme Court. To find a person guilty in a criminal case, each element of the crime must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
A common description of “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” is enough evidence that someone would feel comfortable making an important life decision based on that evidence. If the person feels comfortable doing so, that person is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt based on the evidence. The federal court has the same standard as a state court, proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
The way the prosecution goes about proving Maryland federal criminal cases depends on the facts of the case and the subject matter. Broadly speaking, the prosecution presents evidence to the trier of fact (usually the jury). The prosecution’s goal is for the jury to be convinced, after hearing all the evidence, that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Often, the most important evidence is witness testimony. The witness could be an eyewitness, an alleged victim, or an observer. Other types of evidence could be documentation of financial crimes, substantive and through bank records, business filings, corporate records, tax filings, and accounting records.
With financial crimes, the paper trail can be more damaging to a person and there might not be much eyewitness testimony. Witness testimony in a financial crime could be an accountant or a record keeper. That witness might explain or analyze the documents for the jury. In some cases, the paper trail could be the most important piece of the government’s case. Sometimes the government has a video or audio recording of the incident itself. Other recordings might include incriminating statements or suspicious acts that, in and of themselves are not inherently criminal. However, coupled with the other pieces of the government’s evidence, these recordings may suggest criminal culpability.
The prosecutors are independent of the judges. The judge is considered a neutral arbiter. The current system is adversarial and has the prosecution and the defense. Each party advocates for their own side and presents the case to a judge or a jury that should be neutral and disinterested. In a jury case, the judge plays an important role. The judge hears arguments at preliminary motions and determines what evidence can be used in the trial and what must be excluded. During the trial, the same issues may arise – one party may seek to introduce evidence that the other party wants to exclude. The judge’s decisions on these issues can sometimes determine the outcome of the case.
The prosecutor’s relationship with the judge is supposed to be distinct and separate. There is a professional familiarity because the prosecutors are in court before the same judges on a regular basis. One office has different divisions with the US Attorney’s Office, so the same prosecutors go before the same judges, time and time again. The prosecutors develop a familiarity in the same manner as defense attorneys. Defense attorneys also develop a professional familiarity with the judges by going before the same judges repeatedly. An attorney can develop an understanding of a judge’s particular interests and leanings in terms of how she likes cases to proceed. If a person has been charged with a federal crime, they should contact a defense lawyer that has experience proving Maryland federal criminal cases. Many defense attorneys have worked as prosecutors at one point and may have insight into how to best poke holes in the prosecution’s case. Let a capable attorney advocate for you.