How could the State get a conviction under such strict standards?
The law has devised a way for the State to be helped at proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt. These ways of helping the State are called presumptions or inferences. There are numerous presumptions and inferences created by statue or legal decision. For example: If a person is found in possession of a forged check and is attempting to obtain money for it – there is a presumption that the person forged the check. As the law has evolved, it has created more and more presumptions to aid the government, this is a natural consequence of big government wanting to control all areas of society. Many years ago the average defendant did not take the stand at trial, but today many juries want to hear from the defendant. Part of the reason for the change has been the increase in the presumptions and inferences. Presumptions and inferences can force a Defendant to testify when they would not normally do so. For example, if a person has been found in possession of stolen property soon after the property was stolen, there is a presumption and an inference that the person is the thief – the jury will get an instruction with the presumption in deciding guilt or innocence. If there is a reasonable explanation, it would need to be told to the jury by the Defendant.
The State is also helped by the tremendous resources that it is able to call on at trial. Experts in gathering and processing evidence for analysis (i.e., SBI, FBI, Medical Doctors, etc.), numerous law enforcement officers, and technological ability to use surveillance.
Exceptions to the hearsay rule now have completely consumed the general rule of no hearsay. Now, the question is: “which exception to the hearsay rule can we use to get the statement into evidence.”
Can I be convicted on circumstantial evidence?
This is how most prisoners get to prison. A lot of the people sitting on death row today were convicted by the use of circumstantial evidence.
When should a case be tried before a jury?
The risk of trial needs to be calculated and then weighed against the State’s evidence. In other words, what is the worst that can happen at trial weighed against the credibility of the State’s evidence?