What does a judgement of acquittal mean?

If you have ever followed the happenings in a criminal case in California, you may have seen a judgement of acquittal granted. This judgement has to be requested by the defense attorney. Ask any legal professional, from a Los Angeles to a San Diego or Pasadena Criminal Attorney, and they will tell you that they request an acquittal on many occasions. That is not to say that they always get what they want; in fact judgements of acquittal are not very common.

So what is actually meant by a judgement of acquittal? We are going to take a look at that question, in this article. You should be able to understand the process better, once you have finished reading.

What is the basis for requesting a judgement of acquittal?

The defense attorney for the accused, in a criminal case, requests a judgement of acquittal on the basis that the jury cannot find the defendant guilty beyond reasonable doubt, based on the evidence provided by the state. The idea is to question the standard of the evidence, and the strength of the case, and to ask the court to rule that there is not enough substance to make a guilty verdict possible.

When is the request made?

In the majority of cases, a request for a judgement of acquittal is made once the prosecution has finished presenting its case. This is not always so; a request can also be made once the defense has closed its argument, after the jury has reached a verdict, and up to fifteen days after the verdict has been delivered.

What does the court need to consider?

The most important thing to state is that the court must always consider the request whilst being as favorable as possible to the prosecution. The court examines the prosecutions case, and evidence, with a view to deciding whether there is any possibility that guilt beyond reasonable doubt can be established. As the consideration always needs to be as favorable as possible to the prosecution, judgements of acquittal are not made very often.

What if a judgement of acquittal is made?

If a judgement of acquittal is made then it's not possible for the accused to be tried again for the same crime. This is because double jeopardy comes into play. The prosecution cannot appeal against the judgement unless the decision was made after a jury verdict had been announced. In these cases, an appeal can be made.

You can see the importance of the prosecution making sure that they have a strong enough case, before proceeding to trial. If the case is weak, there is always a chance that a judgement of acquittal could be made. That being said, the court's considerations are always intended to favor the prosecution, so there would need to be some serious issues before a decision to make the judgement was reached.A judgement of acquittal is never made easily.

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