This is the next post in my series on defending against Laredo, Texas sexual assault charges. My last article discussed important considerations in excluding eyewitness identifications by witnesses. It is important to understand that before a case is presented at trial, attorneys go through a lengthy period of motions and pre-trial hearings to prepare. Requests to exclude an in-court identification can be one such Motion. In this article I will explain what a defendant should expect from the trial process in south Texas. If you are in need of assistance, then call my office to speak with a criminal defense lawyer.
I have previously discussed the handling of trials in aggravated assault cases. The same processes apply to a criminal trial on a sexual assault charge. Sexual assault cases involve felony charges; therefore, the Court will require a jury to decide the verdict. Jurors are chosen from a “pool” of individuals residing in the County. Before a jury is selected, lawyers for the prosecution and defense will have an opportunity to qualify individuals in the jury pool and potentially remove jurors that may be biased. The attorneys will have a limited number of strikes to remove biased jurors during the jury qualification. Once a jury is selected, the trial begins. A trial always starts with opening arguments from the prosecution and the defense. The prosecution will then present their case by calling witnesses and producing evidence to be considered by the jury. Each witness of the prosecution will be able to be cross-examined by the defense. Once the prosecution rests their case, the defense will have the option to present their own case. The prosecution can offer a rebuttal to the defense’s case. Once both sides have completed their presentation of evidence, the attorneys must give closing statements to the jury. The Judge will then charge the jury, which is where the Judge will issue legal instructions informing them of the relevant laws to guide their deliberations. The jury is then left to deliberate the case presented and the charges. The jury must find that the defendant committed the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt” to issue a verdict of guilty.
The issues of fact in a trial for sexual assault charges will revolve around whether the defendant engaged in sexual conduct with a victim who did not, or could not, consent. There may also be a dispute regarding facts that would enhance the charge from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony. These could include questions of whether the assault involved a weapon, whether the defendant made the victim fear for their life, or whether drugs were used during commission of the crime. The jury may have the option of choosing between first and second-degree charges. The jurors may only issue a conviction if the evidence presented was sufficient to convict the defendant of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you or a loved one has been charged with sexual assault, then contact my office today to speak with a Laredo criminal defense lawyer. I have devoted my career to defending the rights of accused parties. My firm takes pride in providing the highest level of service and are ready to assist you. Contact us online or by telephone to speak with an attorney.