Who’s Involved In A Criminal Case?

The loss of a loved one is a tragic event that brings with it many difficult tasks and challenges. However, knowing there are resources at your disposal to help lighten the load left behind and ease some of the overwhelming emotions you may find yourself trying to manage can bring some comfort. In the event that the death of a loved one is due to the acts of another, a criminal case after wrongful death may be necessary. The criminal justice system is there to ensure that the responsible party is held accountable and to get justice for your loved one and your family.

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Wrongful Death Attorney

While criminal cases take place in criminal court, wrongful death cases take place in civil court. Wrongful death attorneys represent the family of the deceased in these civil claims. A wrongful death case can take place at the same time as a criminal case. Civil cases pertaining to wrongful death are typically about compensation and recovering damages. Criminal cases pertain to getting justice through criminal charges. 

Roles in a Criminal Case

The Prosecutor

The prosecutor is employed by the prosecutor’s office. This is the individual with whom the family usually works the closest. They help families understand and navigate the court proceedings and take appropriate legal action pertaining to the criminal wrongful death case. 

The role of the prosecutor is to appear before the court on behalf of the state, county, or city that initiated the charges. They represent the people, not the victim. 

Defense Attorney

The defense attorney defends the defendant or accused. Every defendant has a right to an attorney whether they can afford one or not. If the financial burden of hiring a lawyer is too much, then the defendant is assigned a public defender employed by the government. If the defendant is financially able to hire their own attorney, then they have the freedom to hire an attorney of their choosing. 

The role of the defense attorney is to appear on behalf of the defendant. The defense attorney enters their plea, negotiates plea agreements, and in the event the case makes it to trial, the defense attorney argues the defendant’s case to a judge and jury. 

The Judge

In most states, a judge is required to have completed law school and passed the BAR examination, which means the judge is required to be a lawyer. The judge acts as a mediator, listens to the charges, and handles the scheduling of court appearances. 

They are neither on the prosecution’s nor the defense’s side. They are present to ensure that laws and procedures are upheld and that no one oversteps their scope of practice. They make decisions and ensure that standards are met regarding evidence that can be presented. 

The Jury

In the United States, if a person is accused of a crime, they have a few options – one of them being a trial by jury. The jury typically consists of 12 individuals. They listen to the trial, review the evidence, and decide on the guilt or innocence of the defendant. 

The evidence presented must meet high standards. Each charge must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Their verdict must be based solely upon the evidence presented and not any prejudices or sympathies they feel about the case. In a criminal case, the verdict must be agreed upon by all 12 jury members. 

Unthinkable

For a more thorough and complete understanding of everything you need to know about a wrongful death situation, you can click on the above link to take you to an informative resource. “Unthinkable” is a complete guide for surviving spouses and families to understanding everything you need to know about wrongful death, statutes of limitations, and what to expect when a wrongful death occurs. Kyle Bachus is an experienced wrongful death and personal injury lawyer who has outlined all aspects of the process following the wrongful death of a loved one. 

To speak to a personal injury attorney about wrongful deaths that include but are not limited to car accidents, medical malpractice, breach of duty of care, and pain and suffering compensation, you can click on one of the links below. 

We have locations throughout the state of Colorado, and our capable staff and team are prepared to help you get through this difficult time as painlessly as possible. 

Location Links

Denver Office

Colorado Springs Office

Englewood Office

Fort Collins Office

Reference:Bachus, K. (2022). Unthinkable.

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