J- Jury's Verdict
A jury can return with a few possible verdicts.
When the defendant is charged with more than one crime, the verdict form will give the jury a place to mark guilty or not guilty for each individual crime.
Or, in some cases, the jury form will include lesser included verdict options, such as Guilty or Not Guilty of the attempted crime. If a person is charged with First Degree Murder, the form might include:
Guilty of First Degree Murder
Guilty of Second Degree Murder
Guilty of Manslaughter
Guilty of Negligent Homicide
One word you will never see on a criminal jury verdict is: INNOCENT
A judge or jury will never find an accused INNOCENT of the crime in which they are charged.
There is a huge difference between a judge or jury finding that a person is not guilty of the crime they are accused of and declaring that a person is innocent of charges.
First of all INNOCENT is not an option. Secondly, a jury might return a unanimous verdict of not guilty for a variety of reasons: (Unanimous in some states. Ten - to - Two in some states. It varies by state)
The prosecutor might not have proven the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
The prosecutor may have proven only three of the four elements, beyond a reasonable doubt.
The jury could not come to a unanimous decision, so by law they were compelled to return a not guilty verdict.
The jury may be tired and wanted to go home
If the jury believes the defendant committed the crime:
If the jury believes it is very likely that the defendant committed the crime:
If the jury is almost certain the defendant committed the crime:
Each and every jury member is not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the prosecutor proved each and every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt;
Does this mean that the person is in fact innocent of the crime charged?
Remember the Casey AnthonyVerdict?
Remember O.J. Simpson?
Look at defense attorney Cheney Mason's demonstrative evidence chart that he used to explain the prosecution's burden of proof in the Casey Anthony Murder Trial
Last month I read a very good book. I'm not sure I would place it in the legal thriller genre, maybe courtroom drama would be a better fit. I loved the book. The characters were fleshed out, realistic and believable. The plot was moving along at the perfect pace. The author knew how to inject twists and cliffhangers at the appropriate time. Suspenseful? Oh yes. I was on the edge of my my seat. Amazing pace and plot structure, but something happened that made the book fall flat. I won't name the book or author, because of my negative comments, but an otherwise thrilling novel of legal suspense left me disappointed.
The author was not an attorney. Don't get me wrong. You damned sure don't need to be an attorney to write fast paced crime fiction.
Just ask Michael Connelly Lisa Gardner, Harlan Coben, or my newest favorite author, Chevy Stevens, just a few of the experts who take us on nail biting, pee in your pants, roller coaster rides through crime, social media, captivity, and other psychological mayhem.
You do, however, (or you should, let me say,) research the area you are writing about. If you write about guns, you need to know the difference between a revolver and a semi-automatic. I'm not suggesting you become an expert in the field. We don't read fiction for a text book analyses of DNA, ballistics or police/courtroom procedure. But, I am willing to wager that I'm not the only lawyer or non lawyer who's felt a niggle of untruth each time a verdict of innocent/innocence is announced in a crime fiction courtroom.
It's happened in other books, I just happen to remember the most recent. This wasn't the author's only courtroom/legal slip up in the book. There were other instances in that particular story that took me out of the mesmerizing fictional world I was in. The author miss-worded legal objections. The final courtroom scene was just too out of character to have occurred in a real courtroom. Procedure was off.
In fact, the biggest and most glaring discrepancy was when the author had her antagonist, the prosecuting attorney, call the criminal defendant to the stand as her witness. That ain't ever happening in real life. It violates the law. It violates the 5th amendment and a host of jurisprudence and case law. A person accused of a crime has an absolute right to remain silent. If a criminal defendant is called to the stand, it is by his own attorney. Only the defense attorney and the criminal defendant (it is ultimately the defendant's sole decision,) can choose whether or not the defendant will testify. The prosecution cannot ever compel a criminal defendant to take the stand.
I didn't mean to get on a soap box. But, once I began telling you how much the Innocent Verdict Error jarred me out of an otherwise wonderful story, I couldn't stop myself. I feel that strongly about getting the factual details correct.
Have you ever read a book that contained incorrect factual or procedural information? Was it so conspicuous that it rattled you? Were you dislodged from the story?
Crime Fiction Murder Mystery Update:
Not a lot has happened in the current investigation. Detective Coker learned that the district attorney successfully obtained warrants for all electronic media devices belonging to or in the possession/custody or control of: Mr. Thomas Clinton (victim's husband). Any device that contains information related to and or concerning his legal practice will be submitted to the judge first for an in camera inspection.
A warrant was also issued for the tenant, Mr. Michael Prejean's electronic media devices, including, but not limited to cell phones, smart phones, tablets, iPads, IPods, Kindles, Xbox, PlayStation or other gaming devices and all laptop and desktop computers.
A third warrant was issued for Mr. Michael Prejean to submit to a blood DNA test.
After, Dr. Russo refused to voluntarily submit to a blood DNA test, a warrant was issued for the doctor to submit to a blood DNA test.
A warrant was issued giving the police access to all of Mr. Thomas Clinton's financials: Bank statements and records, credit card statements and records and records of any other means of purchasing goods.
Today's Clue: Letter J - Junk Science
For a complete an updated review of all evidence, clues, facts, witnesses etc., pertaining to the Crime Fiction Murder Mystery can be found on my Legal Fiction Page.
2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge participants can be found here.