Alabama Sex Crimes Trials
Alabama has a bifurcated system and unless the case has been presented initially to a grand jury, in most counties in the state, they start out with a warrant that then is assigned to a district judge for a preliminary hearing. That is considered a bench trial, it is not a hearing to determine innocence or guilt but it is nevertheless a very important hearing because in most counties the case is initiated in District Court where a person has a statutory right to ask for a preliminary hearing, that is the first opportunity that that person will have.
There are some sex crimes that are deemed as misdemeanors but most of the sex crimes in Alabama are in fact felony offenses and they subject people to felony treatment. A distinguished sex crimes attorney can help you prepare for any charges that may be leading you to trial. An attorney can help you understand the process of Alabama sex crimes trials and how your case will proceed.
Where Sex Crimes Trials are Heard
Most typically Alabama sex crimes trials will start out with a warrant and then will be assigned to a district judge who then at the request of the accused has a preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing is not a hearing where the question is guilt or innocence, it has a very simple function and it is the issue of probable cause.
If the judge finds after hearing the evidence that there is probable cause to believe that the accused had committed or probably committed an offense, then that case will be presented to a grand jury for possible indictment but it is an incredibly important hearing that if lawyers that do not take advantage of by making a request for a preliminary hearing, they are guilty of malpractice.
They are not protecting the interest of their clients because it is the first opportunity that an accused citizen will have to be confronted with either the complaining witness or the police agency to find out what information they have gathered in their investigation because the accused can subpoena their own witnesses including adverse witnesses. That has always been one of the tools that experienced attorneys have used to help prepare for the later circuit court proceeding. Having a good preliminary hearing is a good start to the trial. It is an incredibly important opportunity to be confronted by the evidence against a person.
Role of Probable Cause and Sufficient Evidence
Once Alabama sex crimes trials have left the District Court, a judge will either make a no probable cause finding or will send them over to the grand jury. It will either be dismissed because the judge thinks there is a lack of evidence or there is probable cause, which is branded as a very low threshold of information. It is considered far lower than what a jury would have to find for there to be a conviction, meaning the case is beyond a reasonable doubt.
If there is an indictment once the trial reaches the grand jury, it will go to the circuit court where it will be assigned to a circuit judge who can conduct a jury trial if the accused wishes to ask for one. Every citizen has a right to have a trial by jury, that is a constitutional right where they will be presumed to be not guilty, the burden is on the government, the state, and the prosecution to prove its charge if the allegation is beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a high threshold of proof. Such crimes can be heard both in front of a jury or a judge. The individual can have a trial just in front of a judge or they can have a preliminary hearing.