A law enforcement officer can arrest an individual if they have reason to believe that person committed an offense. The officer arrests a suspect. The suspect is not yet a criminal. It is an allegation of wrongful conduct that may not necessarily have merit. In North Carolina, an arrest is only the third step in a criminal conviction. Only the court can convict a person. Only the court decides if a person is guilty of committing a crime. Individuals arrested for criminal behavior have the legal right to defend themselves against such accusations.
How does a criminal conviction happen?
In a criminal case, it is the government that prosecutes the defendant. A conviction can only happen when the prosecution can prove that the defendant was guilty of the criminal act beyond a reasonable doubt. For that to happen, the prosecution would need to establish the following:
- A guilty act occurred: The arrested person committed a crime due to an action or an unlawful omission of an action.
- The accused had intent: The criminal act can only qualify as a crime if the person acted purposely, knowingly or negligently. They had the mental capacity to rationalize the action or inaction as wrongful but did it anyway.
- The concurrence of the guilty act and the guilty mind: The prosecution must prove that the intent to commit the crime explains why the defendant committed the crime. There needs to be substantial evidence that connects the act to the intent.
It takes thorough investigation and causation to convict a person of a crime. A conviction may only happen if the evidence is sufficient.
Are you facing criminal charges?
If you are facing criminal charges, you should know that there are ways to defend your innocence. While criminal charges are scary, you should remain calm and silent to avoid incriminating yourself. The legal system can help set you free when you work with it instead of against it.