Have you ever heard the term “prima facie case?” It is a term in Latin that translates to “the case at first sight.” Filing a prima facie case is a means by which someone can evaluate a case in its early stages, in order to discover whether or not there is any valid support or reason to bring the case to trial. It’s a sort of early opportunity for Virginia state courts to determine whether or not the defendant can be fully, formally charged for a crime.

Whoever has the burden of proof will present a prima facie case when they have enough evidence to support the verdict they want. The opposing party might try to disprove this or rebut this stance, with a lawyer’s help.

In order to successfully present a prima facie case, one party does not necessarily have to win. The opposing party has the chance to bring up evidence that rebuts this prima facie case, and the party with the burden of proof has the opportunity to attack this rebuttal evidence.

How Can You Turn A Prima Facie Case Into A Conviction?

Since a prima facie case is intended for Virginia state courts to determine whether or not the defendant can be formally charged for a crime, the standard of proof that the prosecution must satisfy at the prima facie case stage is lower than that of a regular criminal trial (which will occur if the prima facie stage determines there’s enough evidence to proceed).

A prosecutor will need strong evidence that supports each element of the crime in order to establish a prima facie case successfully. The prosecutor must also prove a defendant’s guilt as to each element beyond a reasonable doubt to win a conviction.

Therefore, a prosecutor might be able to present enough evidence to establish a prima facie case, but the prosecution must still nevertheless prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt– as required by the United State Constitution.

What Happens If the Prosecution Cannot Establish A Prima Facie Case?

In the event that the prosecution is not able to establish a prima facie case, this most likely means that he or she did not have sufficient probable cause to support the defendant getting arrested. Because of this, it means that the proposed charges would be dismissed even before reaching the stage of the prosecution offering the prima facie case. In most criminal trials, because of this, the prosecution in most trials in Virginia do not find it hard to establish a prima facie case, as the defendant would have already been released otherwise.

How Can The Defendant Fight Back Against A Prima Facie Charge?

If you are the defendant in a prima facie case, you have the opportunity to offer evidence that contradicts, rebuts or fights back against each element of the crime that the prosecution is attempting to establish. The prosecution must then prove each of these criminal elements beyond a reasonable doubt, so the defendant’s main goal is normally just to cast doubt on what the prosecution is considering proof. As long as the defendant can successfully challenge the evidence and proof, they can be acquitted.

As such, it’s crucial to have the help of a skilled Virginia criminal defense attorney to help you. If someone that has been charged with a crime is able to challenge the charge early on, and point out the insufficient of the prima facie case, that person will be able to save lots of time and money as well as avoiding criminal charges. You need to work with a lawyer who can help you navigate a prima facie case, who has extensive experience with many different aspects of Virginia criminal defense law.

If a person charged with a crime can challenge the charge early and on the inadequacies of the prima facie case (or, better yet, the grounds for arrest), that person can save time and money (and avoid a potential criminal penalty). If you have questions about the prima facie case of any crime, consult a lawyer with experience in criminal defense law. Sometimes the best defense is an early attack on the offense.

Schedule A Free Consultation With A Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC offers a free, no-obligation consultation for any Virginia resident who has been arrested with criminal charges in Virginia. Together, we can fight back against the charges imposed on you and create a strong case for your defense.

If you or a loved one are in the early stages of a prima facie case, or need advice regarding how to get proposed charges dropped, you need the help of a strong criminal defense lawyer who has experience doing just that. Schedule your free criminal case evaluation with The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC as soon as possible.