It never ends well when suspects attempt to evade police. In fact, Unlawful Flight from Pursuing Law Enforcement Vehicle is classified as a felony offense. If you have evaded arrest by a police officer, you might be in more trouble than had you just stopped.
Evading a Police Officer
Evading a police officer is also known as unlawful flight. Per Arizona law, “Unlawful Flight from Pursuing Law Enforcement Vehicle” is defined as when a person willfully attempts to flee or elude a pursuing law enforcement vehicle that is being driven with at least one of its lights on, or while the siren is activated.
If you are facing a charge of evading a police officer or unlawful flight, here are the potential consequences you could face:
- First offense class 5 felony: punishment can be probation with 0 days in jail up to one 1 year in jail, or prison of 6 months to 2.5 years.
- If you have one prior conviction, then the “prison only” range is 1 year to 3.75 years.
- If you have 2 prior convictions then the “prison only” range is 3 years to 7.5 years of incarceration.
There are many steps to a criminal trial, and if you have been accused of committing a crime, including evading a police officer, you’ll want to understand them. As always, the best first step is to hire a criminal defense attorney that can help build your case and defend you. Read on to learn more about the steps of a criminal trial.
The Steps of a Criminal Trial
During a criminal trial a jury (or just a judge) will examine the evidence presented to decide whether, “beyond a reasonable doubt,” a defendant committed a crime. A trial allows for the government and the defendant to argue their cases. In the case of the government, the goal is to obtain a “guilty” verdict and a conviction of the defendant. The defendant, obviously, has a goal of obtaining a “not guilty” verdict. Once both sides have presented their arguments, a jury or judge will make this determination.
A criminal trial typically consists of six following phases:
- Choosing a Jury
- Opening Statements
- Witness Testimony and Cross-Examination
- Closing Arguments
- Jury Instruction
- Jury Deliberation and Announcement of Verdict
Choosing a Jury
While there are rare cases in which only a judge will preside over a hearing, typically a case goes before a jury. The first step then of a criminal trial is to select the jury. During jury selection, the judge, the plaintiff, and the defendant (through their respective attorneys) will screen potential jurors. During this time, the judge, prosecution, and defense team will ask potential jurors about ideological predispositions or life experiences that may pertain to the case. The judge, the prosecution, and defense can excuse potential jurors at this stage, based on their responses to questioning. After questioning, a jury is then selected.
The first “dialogue” of a trial is during the opening statements. The prosecution, representing the government, will provide an opening statement. Then the defense will provide an opening statement.
The government has the “burden of proof” as to the defendant’s guilt, meaning that the government must prove that the defendant is guilty of the crime he or she is being accused of. The prosecutions opening statement is given first and is often more detailed than the defense’s opening statement. In some trial, the defensive team might decide it is strategically better to wait until the conclusion of the government’s main case before it makes an opening statement. Regardless of when opening statements are made, those statements will include the following:
- The prosecution will present the facts of the case, from the government’s perspective, and walk the jury through what it is trying to prove — the defendant’s guilt. The prosecution will aim to show how, what, and why the defendant did what he or she is accused of.
- The defense will provide the jury with its own interpretation of the facts in an attempt to set the stage for rebuttal of the prosecutions evidence while also providing any legal defenses.
Witness Testimony and Cross-Examination
The main part of any criminal trial is the “case-in-chief” stage. This is the portion in which each side presents its key evidence to the jury and judge.
The prosecution side will set forth evidence during its case-in-chief stage. This evidence is presented in an attempt to convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant on trial committed the crime. During the case-in-chief stage, the prosecution will call eyewitnesses and experts to testify, introduce physical evidence, such as photographs, documents, and medical reports as a way of proving its side of the case.
The witness testimony process usually follows the following timeline:
- A witness is called to the stand (by either the prosecution or defense side) and is “sworn in” by taking an oath to tell the truth.
- The party (either the prosecution or defense side) who called the witness to the stand questions the witness. This is done through “direct” examination. The party that has called the witness will attempt to elicit information from the witness through question-and-answer.
- After direct examination, the opposing party has an opportunity to “cross-examine” the witness. During this “cross-examination” the party will attempt to poke holes in the witness’s initial story. Common practices to help poke holes in the witness’s story include attacking the witness’s credibility, or otherwise discrediting the witness and his or her testimony.
- Following the cross-examination, there is a chance for”re-direct examination.” The side that originally called the witness is given a second opportunity to question him or her. This gives the initial party a chance to remedy any damaging effects done during the cross-examination.
Once the prosecution concludes its case-in-chief, the defense will present its own evidence in the same manner. In some trials the defense may choose not to present a “case-in-chief.” In these instances it might be more strategic for the defense team to make its key points through cross-examination of the prosecution’s witnesses, and challenges to its evidence.
After both the prosecution and defense have had an opportunity to present their case and to challenge the evidence presented by the other side, both sides “rest.” This rest means that no more evidence will be presented to the jury.
After both sides rest, closing arguments are made. During this portion, the prosecution and the defense will re-cap all the evidence that was presented, while also making a final effort to show why the evidence should find the defendant either guilty or not guilty.
Following closing arguments, the next step toward a verdict is jury instruction. During this process the judge gives the jury the set of legal standards it will need to determine whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.
A judge will base these legal standards off of the defendant’s case, based on what criminal charges and evidence were presented during the trial. This instruction will often include input and argument from the prosecution and defense. The judge will instruct the jury on the relevant legal principles that will need to be deliberated on. These include findings the jury will need to make in order to arrive at certain conclusions. The judge will also review key legal concepts, such as “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” and any crimes the jury might need to consider, based on the evidence presented during the trial.
The case then goes “to the jury.”
Jury Deliberation and Verdict
During juror deliberation, the group of jurors will consider the case and all the evidence that was presented. During deliberation, the jurors, as a group, will attempt to agree on whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of the crime(s) charged. Deliberation is the first opportunity for the jury to discuss the case. This process can last from a few hours to several weeks.
Most jurisdictions require that a jury for a criminal case be unanimous when deciding upon a verdict. In these jurisdictions, if a jury is not unanimous in its decision, and is unable to come to a unanimous decision, the jury is considered a “hung” jury and the judge may decide to declare a “mistrial.” At this point, the case can either be dismissed or the trial may start over again from the jury selection stage.
Once the jurors have reached a verdict, the jury foreperson informs the judge. The judge will then announce the verdict in open court.
Working with Ferragut Law Firm
Ferragut Law Firm is a top rated criminal defense law firm based in Phoenix Arizona. We are dedicated exclusively to the practice of criminal law in all state, federal, and city courts throughout the State of Arizona.
Our mission is to achieve the best possible results for our clients through hard work, attention to detail, and aggressive advocacy, while maintaining the highest level of professionalism, integrity, and ethical standards.
We are committed to providing the most aggressive, professional, and effective representation for our clients accused of crimes to ensure that their legal rights are protected and that the best possible results are achieved. Contact us to discuss the details of your case.
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