Evidence In Criminal Cases: 3 Myths And The Truths Behind Them

If you're currently facing a criminal accusation and trial, you likely have a lot of questions surrounding the process. A large part of the process will involve the collection and interpretation of evidence, both by the prosecution and the defense. Below are three common myths surrounding criminal case evidence and the truths behind them.

Myth #1: Circumstantial Evidence Alone Isn't Enough to Convict

Truth: While a case built solely on circumstantial evidence isn't ideal, it's certainly possible that a jury would convict on it alone.

The strength of circumstantial evidence can vary widely, so even if a case is built on circumstantial evidence alone, the evidence presented to the jury can still be strong enough to convince them that the defendant committed the crime they're accused of beyond a reasonable doubt. Cases built solely on circumstantial evidence have become common enough that there's even a special instruction given to jurors that deals with conviction based on circumstantial evidence.

Myth #2: DNA Evidence Will Always Lead to a Conviction

Truth: While DNA evidence can show the connection of an individual to a crime, it doesn't necessarily mean the crime was committed by the person and isn't always enough to convict on.

As mentioned above, a defendant is convicted when the jury believes that the defendant committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Yes, DNA evidence alone can prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but just because DNA evidence is present in the case doesn't mean that conviction is a sure thing. The majority of criminal cases are built on a number of different kinds of evidence – DNA, circumstantial, eyewitness, etc.

Myth #3: Evidence Can Be Gathered and a Case Can Be Built Within a Number of Days

Truth: While a number of popular crime shows constantly perpetuate this myth, evidence processing and case scheduling can take anywhere from a few months to a few years.

If you're accused of a crime and currently awaiting trial, you likely want the process to go as quickly as possible. While a speedy trial is your right, "speedy" in the world of criminal law likely isn't as speedy as you'd think. It can take months or even years to gather evidence and build a criminal case. It's the job of the prosecution to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt which is why cases can be in the making for years.

To learn more about the process of building a criminal case and how evidence can affect you during this process, speak with a criminal defense attorney like O'Brien & Dekker.