Although the murder rates in Australia are relatively low when compared with other developed countries, murders can and do still frequently occur. If you find yourself unjustly accused of murder, the ordeal you will be facing can scar you for life, let alone ruin every aspect of your life.
When a murder has occurred, the police carefully investigate every finer detail and examine all forensics before any charges are laid. Regardless, if you are facing a murder charge, you can expect to be tried twice. You will be tried by the courts, and you will also be tried in public through the media.
This is why even a verdict of not guilty can affect the accused person’s life forever. It’s also why you need to have the best competent lawyer by your side to prove your innocence.
The Legal Steps to a Murder Charge
The offence of murder is taken very seriously. After the police have received notice of a reportable death, the death is referred to the Coroner who closely investigates the case.
The Coroner releases their findings on the cause of death to the police. If the cause of death is found to be homicide, it will be specified in the Coroner’s findings. These findings will explain the cause of death without making any assertions as to the perpetrators.
The police will then begin a thorough investigation and compile their own findings into a brief that they will forward to the state Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration by a Crown Prosecutor.
It is the Crown Prosecutor’s responsibility to consider all of the evidence found by both the Coroner and the police in deciding whether or not a charge of murder is warranted.
The Concept of ‘Reasonable Doubt’ Plays a Role in the Decision to Prosecute
An accused has a number of rights, including the right to a fair trial. As such, the court adopts the presumption of innocence for all accused. It is then for the Crown Prosecutor to determine whether the evidence is sufficient enough to prove the charge to the highest standard of proof being beyond a reasonable doubt.
During this time, the Crown Prosecutor may revert the matter to the police for further investigation in order to discover more evidence and strengthen the prosecution’s case.
There are some cases believed to be homicides, in which the Prosecution has not received enough evidence to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. So, although the evidence clearly shows a murder to have occurred, the Crown Prosecutor may be unable to charge anyone with the offence.
The Value of a Skilled and Experienced Lawyer
An experienced lawyer will conduct their own investigation into each step of the legal chain that led to the murder charge against their client. They will be looking at all the evidence the prosecution has for anything that may cast any reasonable doubt in the prosecution’s case.
A criminal defence lawyer knows that the prosecution will, using the evidence at hand, create their story of the events leading up to and after the murder and portray this to the jury.
All a criminal defence lawyer needs, in order to establish reasonable doubt, is one piece of evidence that deviates from the story and causes the jury to doubt the veracity of the Crown Prosecutor’s case.