Defending a Case with No Video
A question that comes up from clients often is: “How can they convict me in this case if there is no video of me doing what they are claiming?” The answer is easy. In the 1950s, stores did not have cameras in every corner of their shop. Yet, shoplifting still occurred, and convictions for shoplifting still occurred.
Simply stated, video evidence is not required for a conviction. What is required is that the government prove each and every element of the offense charged beyond a reasonable doubt. Quite honestly, cases without video can sometimes be the easiest cases for the government to prove. That is because when there is video evidence available, your attorney can defend you by using the video to contradict or cast doubt on the police officer’s testimony.
By contrast, when the police officer’s testimony is the only evidence offered, your attorney’s job is more difficult. Jurors, and certainly judges, want to believe that police officers are trustworthy and testify truthfully. Your attorney’s job in a trial where there is no video is to give the jurors reasons to doubt, question, or disbelieve what the officer is saying or claiming.
Creating Doubt, Questions, or Disbelief.
As noted, your attorney’s job at trial is to give the jurors reasons to have doubt about the police officer’s version of what happened in your case. Your attorney can obtain an officer’s personnel file to determine if he or she has prior incidents of dishonesty. That is a very important way in which jurors would have reason to doubt the officer’s truthfulness on the stand.
Your attorney can also attack the facts of the case. To give a few examples:
- The officer may have been too far away to actually observe what he is claiming that he saw.
- The officer may claim that you sold drugs, but the person you allegedly sold to ran away, and no drugs were recovered. Thus, your attorney could explore contradictions or inconsistencies within the officer’s story through effective cross-examination.
- The facts may reveal that you were misidentified, and that someone else actually committed the offense.
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