What happens when a jury does not believe the defendant is guilty of the main crime a prosecutor is accusing them of, but does believe the defendant is guilty of something? Depending on the instructions from the judge, the jury may be able to convict on a lesser offense.
Having lesser included offenses can benefit both the defendant and the prosecution. For the defendant, it could mean not being convicted of a serious crime, and for the prosecution it could mean a conviction for something rather than a straight acquittal. Keep reading to learn how this scenario can apply. Be sure to contact Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 if you have a need for a free legal consultation with an attorney.
More About Lesser Included Instructions
Generally speaking, a judge is required to instruct a jury about any lesser offense that is necessarily a part of the charged offense, if there is a significant amount of evidence that the defendant committed only said lesser crime. Note that the judge only needs to do this if they believe the evidence supports it.
Take this example: A person is charged with drug possession with the intent to distribute or sell. Necessarily included in that charge is simple drug possession. However, the judge will only give instructions to the jury to consider a conviction for simple drug possession if there is evidence that this is all the defendant is guilty of. If the defendant was arrested with scales, a large amount of drugs, and other signs of intent to sell or distribute, then the judge will not instruct the jury to consider lesser included offenses.
Your Criminal Defense Attorney Can Work for Lesser Offenses to Be Included in Several Ways
If there is a lesser charge that would offer considerably lower penalties, then your attorney will likely negotiate with the prosecutor for a plea deal. If the prosecution refuses then we can bring in expert witnesses to help prove to the judge and jury that you should be either acquitted or only convicted of a lesser offense.
If the judge agrees with our determination and reads jury instructions to consider lesser included offenses, then we will ensure that our closing argument contains a strong case for acquitting or convicting only of the lesser included charges.
Lesser Included Charges Could Keep You Out of Jail: Call Us Today for a Consultation
Do not wait to call Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055. We are standing by today to provide a free legal consultation. We will carefully consider your case, the evidence, and your criminal background. We will then offer our best advice on how you can proceed. Do not wait – get the help and peace of mind you need.