Basic Information

Just because you are accused of a crime, does not mean that you will be convicted of that crime!

Police officers are charged with the task of filing criminal charges.  This merely requires a determination of probable cause.

Probable Cause has been defined as: “facts and circumstances within the officers’ knowledge, and of which they have reasonably trustworthy information, that are sufficient in themselves to warrant a belief by a man of reasonable caution that a crime is being committed.  Brinegar v. United States, 338 U.S. 160 (1949).

This is obviously a very low threshold requirement.  However, our criminal justice system provides for protections for the person accused of a crime (defendant).  One of these protections is the requirement that every element of an offense be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Beyond a reasonable doubt is commonly defined as “proof of such a character that an ordinary person would rely and act upon it in the most important of his or her own personal affairs.”

So its very important to understand that you have a right to require the state to prove every element of the offense to a judge or jury (see jury rights).