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“Elements” of the Offense – Why Details Matter

Posted on in Criminal Law

Elements of the Offense – Why Details Matter, McHenry County Criminal Defense Lawyer, criminal case, criminal defense, burden of proof, criminal prosecutionOne point of confusion that often arises between individuals charged with committing a crime in Illinois and their defense attorneys is the amount of attention attorneys often pay to the details of a case. While many expect their criminal defense lawyer to notice minute details in police reports and forensic reports that the individuals themselves may miss, what is not clear to some is why Illinois criminal defense attorneys care so much about:

  • Whether the officer was properly trained to conduct a preliminary field test of the drugs allegedly found in your car;
  • What training the individual who drew your blood during your DUI arrest possessed; or
  • What the weather conditions were at the time that an alleged criminal act occurred.

Oftentimes, the reason why your Illinois criminal defense attorney will focus heavily on certain details – even ones that may seem insignificant – is because the presence or absence of these details can impact whether the prosecution has shown a particular element of the criminal offense with which you are charged.

What is an “Element”?

Every criminal offense in Illinois is comprised of one or more essential “elements” – short, factual propositions that must each be shown to be true by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails to prove even one essential element, then you cannot be found guilty of that particular offense. For example, if you are charged with possessing methamphetamine, but the prosecutor fails to introduce sufficient evidence that the substance found in your possession was, in fact, methamphetamine, then you will be found not guilty of that particular offense.

Paying attention to details, then, is an effective way for your criminal defense lawyer to successfully resolve your criminal charges without the necessity of asserting and proving an affirmative defense. If the prosecutor fails to meet his or her burden because he or she did not present sufficient evidence as to any element of the crime with which you are charged, then the outcome of your case is often the same as if you had raised a successful defense to your charges.

The Burden of Proof in a Criminal Case Does Not Shift

Recall that in a criminal case the burden of proving your guilt always remains with the prosecution – you are never required to prove you are innocent of criminal charges. Having a passionate McHenry County criminal defense lawyer is key to ensuring the prosecution is held to task and forced to meet its evidentiary burden. At Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, our team of dedicated criminal law attorneys is well-versed in the elements the prosecution must prove in order to prevail in a variety of criminal cases, including DUI offenses, drug cases, and other misdemeanor and felony cases. Contact Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC as soon as possible after you have been charged with a criminal offense in McHenry County. You may reach our firm by phone or by completing our firm's online contact form.



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