Prima Facie Case
You might not be familiar with this term, but it’s an early and very important part of every legal action and has significance in every criminal case. It’s a Latin term which translates to, “the case at first sight.” It’s a way to evaluate a case at its early stages to see if there is any valid reason for bringing it to trial. The party with the burden of proof, or the prosecution, presents a prima facie case where they can present evidence to support their claim.
In criminal law, the prosecution in a criminal case carries the burden of proof. This means that they must present a prima facie case that proves that the defendant is guilty of the crime being charged against him. If the prosecution fails to present evidence that supports each part of the crime, the defendant will be acquitted even without presenting any evidence.
For example, a prosecutor has charged you with burglary. The prosecution must present enough evidence that you’ve actually entered the premises without the proper authorization to do so. If the prosecution can only show that you’ve entered the premises only after the burglary has taken place, this evidence alone cannot support the crime being charged against you. The defendant, in fact, no longer needs to offer any evidence to rebut the case, but could instead request for acquittal after the prosecutor’s failure to present a prima facie case.
However, if the prosecutor has evidence, such as a testimony of an eyewitness, then they have satisfactory evidence for a prima facie case. Even if the defendant has evidence that will nullify the statement of the eyewitness, they can’t immediately move for a verdict but instead must present that evidence in rebuttal.
Successfully presenting a prima facie case doesn’t mean that the party has already won the case. The defendant has the opportunity to offer evidence that will rebut the prosecutor’s prima facie case. An experienced criminal defense attorney in Gold River, CA, can help with your criminal case and find the best defense that is best for your situation.