Most criminal cases are resolved without the need for a trial; however, for those that do go to trial it can be a long and stressful process for the defendant and his or her loved ones. If you are currently facing criminal charges in San Diego, California and are considering taking your case to trial you should have a firm understanding of the process of a criminal trial in San Diego before making a final decision about how to proceed.
Deciding whether to accept a plea bargain or take a criminal case to a trial is a serious decision and one that should only be made after extensive consultation with your San Diego criminal defense attorney. There are, however, some trial basics that defendants often ask about when considering a criminal trial in San Diego. For example, one question that is asked frequently is “Is a cop’s word evidence in court?” Yes, a cop’s word is evidence in court; however, so is yours.
There are very strict, and complicated, rules about what evidence can be admitted in a criminal prosecution. Those rules also address when and how a witness may testify. Witnesses that testify for the state in a criminal prosecution typically include law enforcement officers, scientists or medical personnel who completed examinations on evidence, and/or civilians who witnessed the alleged crime or who knew the alleged victim or defendant. A law enforcement officer may testify to a number of things, such as:
- How the case came to be investigated
- What the officer did during the investigation
- What happened when the defendant was arrested
- What the defendant said when questioned
- What evidence the officer located
By the same token, the defendant may testify in a criminal prosecution if he or she chooses to do so. A defendant has a Constitutional right against self-incrimination, meaning that the defendant cannot be forced to testify but may do so voluntarily.
If the trial is a jury trial, the members of the jury are charged with evaluating the credibility of all witnesses who testify during the criminal trial in San Diego. This includes cops who testify as well as the defendant or anyone testifying as part of the defense. In theory, a cop’s word should not carry more weight than a defendant’s; however, in reality most juries believe what a law enforcement officer says when testifying under oath. Whether or not a jury believes what a defendant say while testifying depends on the jury and the defendant.