In a criminal case, the government generally brings charges in one of two ways: either by accusing a suspect directly in a bill of information or other similar document, or by bringing evidence before a grand jury to allow that body to determine whether the case should proceed. If there is, then the defendant is indicted. in the federal system, a case must be brought before a grand jury for indictment if it is to proceed; some states, however, do not require indictment.
Once charges have been brought, the case is then brought before a petit jury, or is tried by a judge if the defense requests it. the jury is selected from a pool by the prosecution and defense.
The burden of proof is on the prosecution in a criminal trial, which must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime charged. the prosecution presents its case first, and may call witnesses and present other evidence against the defendant. after the prosecution rests, the defense may move to dismiss the case if there is insufficient evidence, or present its case and call witnesses. All witnesses may be cross-examined by the opposing side. the defendant is not required to testify under the fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, but must answer the prosecution’s questions if he or she takes the stand. after both sides have presented their cases and made closing arguments, the judge gives the jury legal instructions and they adjourn to deliberate in private. the jury must unanimously agree on a verdict of guilty or not guilty.
If a defendant is found guilty, sentencing follows, often at a separate hearing after the prosecution, defense, and court have developed information based on which the judge will craft a sentence. in capital cases, a separate penalty phase occurs, in which the jury determines whether to recommend that the death penalty should be imposed. As with the guilt phase, the burden is on the prosecution to prove its case, and the defendant is entitled to take the stand in his or her own defense, and may call witnesses and present evidence.
After sentencing, the defendant may appeal the ruling to a higher court. American appellate courts do not retry the case; they only examine the record of the proceedings in the lower court to determine if errors were made that require a new trial, re-sentencing, or a complete discharge of the defendant, as is mandated by the circumstances. the prosecution may not appeal after an acquittal, although it may appeal under limited circumstances before verdict is rendered, and may also appeal from the sentence itself.
Mike Wallace passed away this weekend at the age of 93. Photo by Bebeto Matthews)/AP
The special prosecutor assigned to the Trayvon Martin case has decided against convening a Grand Jury, which would have decided if there is enough evidence to arrest George Zimmerman, the man who shot the unarmed teenager more than a month ago. the Martin family is hoping it’s a sign the prosecutor has enough evidence to arrest Zimmerman now. Tonight we’ll talk to a lawyer and break down what’s happening in Florida. and we’ll look at the impact of this case, with protesters who are taking up Trayvon’s cause.
This week marks 100 years since the Titanic plunged to the bottom of the ocean. Tonight we’re looking at the legacy of the disaster on families across generations with Christopher Ward, author of “And the Band Played On.” Ward’s grandfather was who was part of the band that played on the ship while it sank. Some Titanic survivors credited the band for keeping panic at bay.
And we’ll reflect back on the remarkable career of veteran 60 Minutes journalist Mike Wallace, who passed away this weekend. We’ll speak with journalist Beth Knobel, who worked with Wallace and knew him well.
Join us tonight at 8 p.m. ET on CBC News Network.
So says CNN.
[Updated at 12:11 p.m. ET] State Attorney Angela Corey, appointed as a special prosecutor in the February shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, has decided against sending the case to a grand jury, her office said Monday.
“The decision should not be considered a factor in the final determination of the case,” Corey’s office said in a statement.
The grand jury, set to convene on Tuesday, was previously scheduled by the former prosecutor.
Corey previously said she has not used grand jury’s in cases like this and added that from the time she was appointed she said she may not need a grand jury.
The decision about whether or not to charge George Zimmerman in the case now rests with prosecutors.
Now I see three possible reasons for this.
- The special prosecutor has completed her investigation and has decided that there is simply not enough evidence against George Zimmerman to charge him.
- The special prosecutor has completed her investigation has decided that there is sufficient evidence for her to file charges without taking the matter to a grand jury.
- The special prosecutor has decided that the continued development of evidence means that further investigation is warranted and a decision on whether or not to charge George Zimmerman will come at a later date.
Now given that Angela Corey has previously indicated that she has not used grand juries in the past in such cases, so I am inclined towards choice 3. After all, I don’t believe that a grand jury could make a fair and unbiased decision in this case, given the inflamed rhetoric and passions that surround Zimmerman’s killing of Martin. If you were on that grand jury, knowing what you know about the case from the media, could you vote to not indict Zimmerman, knowing that it would be likely that your identity would be leaked to the media and/or public despite laws protecting the identities of grand jurors? I think that Corey must ultimately act on her own — and that she is waiting for the further development of evidence, and for the extreme public passions to die down.
And given the way the evidence is developing in the media now, it seems to me that not indicting George Zimmerman would be the proper decision — no matter how sad, tragic and lamentable the death of Trayvon Martin at his hands may be. After all, it is the duty of a prosecutor to do JUSTICE UNDER THE LAW, not under some metaphysical concept of absolute justice.
MOULTRIE — A Colquitt County grand jury found insufficient evidence to indict a Colquitt County woman who was accused of the Jan. 5 stabbing of her husband. The grand jury recently returned a no bill in the case of Sandra Jean Hobby. Barring additional information, Hobby, 44, will not be prosecuted in the case, Assistant District Attorney Brian McDaniel said Thursday. “unless more evidence comes forward at some point, that will probably be the only presentment for Mrs. Hobby,” he said. Medical and law enforcement personnel were called to the home of Hobby and husband Roland Hobby on the night of Jan. 5. Roland Hobby told officers that he fell on a kitchen knife while sharpening. Colquitt County Sheriff’s Office reports said that Roland Hobby had extensive bleeding. The knife recovered by officers had been washed prior to their arrival. Roland Hobby spent an extended period at Colquitt Regional Medical Center. He told The Observer in February that his wife is innocent and that he wanted her to be cleared in the case. In other cases, no bills were handed down in the following: • Wayne Kyle Morris: terroristic threats. • Marshall Black Jr.: aggravated battery. • Kenny Lawton Jr.: terroristic threats. • Elaine Christful: aggravated assault.