In Florida, assault and battery are two different charges, even though you often hear them used together. In addition to these two charges, which are typically misdemeanors, more serious offenses include aggravated assault and aggravated battery are treated as felonies.
Inventions have changed how we view things. Imaging devices like the x-ray and CT scan have changed how we view the practice of medicine. The Internet has changed how we communicate. Now, a new form of technology may lead to a shift in how we view money: the Bitcoin.
Criminal charges are based on evidence. Without evidence to support allegations, a charge cannot survive. But just how accurate is the evidence used to support criminal charges?
Last week, President Obama exercised his pardon power to commute sentences for 42 nonviolent drug offenders, twelve of whom are from Florida. October first will reportedly be the last day in prison for 11 of the offenders, each of whom had been sentenced to at least 15 years in prison. Nine apparently had been sentenced to life in prison.
Allegations of fraud can have significant consequences for health care providers. Not only are there potential civil penalties that can result from fraud allegations, but there possible criminal penalties as well. On the civil side, depending on the facts of the case and the law being applied, a provider could face tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties.
In any criminal case, it is up to the government to provide evidence supporting each and every element of every charge. Most people have heard the term "burden of proof" and know that, in criminal cases, prosecutors must present relevant, reliable evidence proving the truth of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. The latter is referred to as the standard of proof.
The United States Supreme Court ruled today that "the government cannot freeze the financial assets of people accused of crimes if the money has no connection to criminal activity and is needed to pay legal defense costs."
We’ve been writing in recent posts about neuroscience evidence in criminal cases, and the court system’s reluctance to accept such evidence because of its perceived lack—perceived or actual—of reliability. Reliability, we noted, is a big issue with any piece of evidence, and one of the tasks of a criminal defense attorney is to ensure that the evidence prosecutors are presenting in support of charges meets minimum standards of reliability.
Last time, we began looking at the issue of neuroscience and its increasing use in criminal cases. As we noted, neuroscience evidence is introduced in a fair number of cases, but there is still a great deal of caution about permitting such neuroscience evidence in court.
Although there are many potential fronts on which a criminal defense case can be fought, the primary one is the evidence. Prosecutors are required to demonstrate with relevant and reliable evidence that the defendant is guilty of each charge, beyond a reasonable doubt. When the evidence just doesn’t reach this bar, it isn’t possible to convict. Dealing carefully with evidence, therefore, is a central aspect of an effective criminal defense case.