Parties And Roles In A Delaware Criminal Case
In its most basic sense, a Delaware criminal case pits the government seeking to enforce its laws against the individual accused of breaking them. The government will take the position of the plaintiff, which has the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt with respect to every element of the offense. The person charged with a crime is the defendant, who can attack the government’s case and present other evidence to support a dismissal or acquittal.
This overview is quite basic, and it probably covers information you already know about the criminal process in Delaware. However, there are additional details about the different players that you might not understand. This can lead to confusion from the moment you are arrested, and it may carry over to the pretrial process and eventual trial. Though your Wilmington criminal defense lawyer will tackle the specifics, you should become familiar with the parties and roles in criminal proceedings.
In the Government’s Corner
A criminal case typically begins with some form of investigation, whether it be a roadside stop for drunk driving or a months-long probe into white collar crime. Law enforcement officers are the government’s front line for investigating crime, including uniformed police and plainclothes detectives. The government also gets support from lab technicians, fingerprint specialists, handwriting analysts, and forensics specialists.
An arrest officially opens a criminal case, at which point the government has a lawyer to represent its interests. It is the prosecutor’s job to secure a conviction using the evidence collected by law enforcement and support staff.
For the Defendant
The person facing charges is the defendant in a criminal case, and you are also allowed to retain an attorney to represent your interests. Your defense lawyer’s job is to prevent the prosecutor from meeting its burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Dismissal of the charges or an acquittal at trial is the ideal outcome, but there are other options to resolve criminal charges.
Victims and Witnesses
If the case is based upon a violent offense or property offense like theft, the victim will play a central role in the trial. However, it is critical to keep in mind that this person is NOT a party to the case. A victim might have been harmed by the offense, but he or she is still a witness. You will also have the opportunity to present witness testimony that favors your position.
Finder of Fact
This role may involve:
- The judge in a bench trial; or
- Jurors in a jury trial.
It is the job of the finder of fact to render a decision on guilt versus acquittal. You are entitled to a jury trial in many Delaware criminal cases, but there can be advantages to having your case decided by a judge.
Discuss Your Case with a Wilmington Criminal Defense Attorney
It is helpful to know the different players you will be dealing with in the Delaware criminal process, but you can count on your lawyer to handle details. For more information, please contact Attorney Michael W. Modica in Wilmington, DE. You can set up a consultation by calling 302.600.1262 or filling out an online form.