[This is part 3 of a three part “Getting it Right” series by author and attorney Karen A. Wyle. This series is aimed at helping authors understand and add meaningful and convincing detail in writing courtroom drama. Part 1 can be found here and part 2 can be found here.]
Any writer planning to deal with criminal trials should understand the reasonable doubt standard of proof. And anyone writing about other sorts of trials should realize that the reasonable doubt standard doesn’t apply.
Only in criminal trials must the prosecution prove the defendant’s guilt by the well-known standard, “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Depending on the crime(s) with which the defendant is charged, the prosecution may have to prove a list of particular facts (“elements”) about the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Continue reading “Getting it Right: Standards of Evidence by Karen A. Wyle>“
[This is part 2 of a three part “Getting it Right” series by author and attorney Karen A. Wyle. This series is aimed at helping authors understand and add meaningful and convincing detail in writing courtroom drama. Part 1 can be found here.]
As promised, here are a few basics about juries.
There are some kinds of cases that may or may not be tried to a jury, and other kinds of cases where there will never be a jury.
In a criminal case where there is a possibility of more than six months’ imprisonment, a defendant has a right to trial by jury. In some states, a defendant facing less than six months also has that right. If you’re charged with an infraction, such as a parking ticket, you probably can’t get a jury trial. Continue reading “Getting it Right: Juries by Karen Wyle“
In true lawyer fashion, I’ll begin with a couple of caveats:
• I am an appellate attorney. I don’t do trial work. I read trial transcripts, as well as appellate decisions that analyze what went on at trial and the rules that were or were not followed there. This gives me a fair-to-middling knowledge of what really goes on in courtrooms. It is possible that some evidentiary rules, for example, tend to be ignored in practice.
• I’m licensed to practice only in Indiana and some federal jurisdictions. (I am an inactive member of the California bar as well.) I’ll try to confine my comments to principles and procedures that are likely to apply nationwide, and to indicate when different states’ rules may vary. Continue reading “Getting it Right: Courtroom Writing by Karen A. Wyle“