In a criminal case, a defendant is presumed innocent until proved guilty. This means the defendant should be acquitted and face no penalties unless a prosecutor is able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant violated the law. The prosecutor’s duty is to prove each and every element of a crime so a jury has almost no doubt that the defendant is guilty of that particular element of an offense.
While most people are familiar with the presumption of innocence when it comes to the difference between acquittal and a guilty verdict, there is also a presumption of innocence that applies when determining what degree of an offense a defendant should be charged with. If there are questions about a defendant’s level of culpability, the Nevada rules related to presumption of innocence make clear that a defendant should be found guilty of the lesser offense.
There can be a substantial difference in the degree of penalties for varying offenses depending upon whether a defendant is convicted of a more or less serious crime. As a result, it is important to try to build a defense strategy that not only makes a jury doubt whether you did anything wrong but that also makes a jury question whether the prosecutor has successfully proved a more serious crime took place. An experienced Vegas criminal defense lawyer can help you both to try to avoid conviction and to try to reduce charges and penalties.
LV Criminal Defense has extensive experience representing defendants charged with all types of criminal acts. We know how to fight for our clients so they can face the minimum penalties possible given the circumstances of their charges and the evidence against them. Give us a call today to find out about the assistance we can offer.
Nevada sets forth rules for conduct of trial in its code of criminal procedure. N.R.S. 175.191 provides details on presumption of innocence and requires acquittal if there is reasonable doubt about guilt. N.R.S. 175.201 details how the presumption of innocence rule works when there are different possible degrees of an offense for which a defendant could be convicted.
For example, under N.R.S. 200.030, a definition of murder is provided. The definition of murder in the first degree requires premeditation, except in certain circumstances such as when a murder is committed to prevent arrest or is committed in perpetration of an act of terrorism. For all other murders, a defendant is charged with murder in the second degree.
Nick Wooldridge has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in Nevada.
In order for a defendant to be convicted of murder in the first degree, the prosecutor would thus have to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant planned the murder in advance or met one of the other requirements for first degree murder. If the jury believes the prosecutor has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed murder, but has not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s acts were premeditated, then the defendant should be convicted of only the lesser offense of second degree murder.
Nicholas Wooldridge, Esq can provide assistance with understanding the different degrees of criminal charges that you face and the different potential penalties that can go along with each of the offenses for which you have been charged. Your attorney can also help you to understand what the prosecutor has to prove for each different type of crime, and to find ways to introduce reasonable doubt to make it harder for a prosecutor to meet this burden of proof.
LV Criminal Defense has a long track record of helping clients to reduce penalties or avoid conviction when facing accusations of wrongdoing. Give us a call today to find out more about the ways in which we can help you to fight for your future if you’ve been charged with a crime.