STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)- In the legal system, once a person is arrested that marks the first step in the investigation.
The final step doesn’t come until a jury issues a verdict of guilty or not guilty for the person being accused of a crime.
But it’s what happens in between those two steps that’s often the key to the outcome.
Investigators collect crucial pieces of evidence to strengthen their case, it’s what makes or breaks the case.
“Evidence can come in through testimony, it can come in through eye witnesses, it can come in through DNA, it can come in through bullets that have been examined and determined to come from certain guns that may been in possession of an individual,” said Jeff Hosford, WCBI Legal Expert, Hosford Law Firm, PLLC.
Sometimes that evidence can easily connect an individual to a crime.
“If you’re sitting there on camera showing what you did and it’s a clear picture of the person in the video, it’s hard to get up there and deny that they did something,” said Hosford.
Then there are times when it’s difficult.
According to Hosford, officers failing to do a thorough investigation and collect all of the necessary evidence can cause big problems for the prosecutor’s case.
“If an officer investigates a case and they feel like they know the person did it and they just sit back and they base it on that information, then two years later you come to trial and the officer says, well I just know he did it,” Hosford explained. “All of the evidence that was against him at the time has now disappeared, it’s hard to convict that person because there is no testimony or there is no factual evidence person to tie that person to the crime.”
In these instances when the evidence isn’t strong enough or doesn’t point in the direction of the person being charged, Hosford said it’s common to see prosecutors dismiss the charges being brought against the suspect.
“It’s a tough spot to be in,” Hosford described. “You have one family grieving, you have the police officers over here saying he did it, and then you have evidence that shows he didn’t do it. As a prosecutor your job is to say, the evidence doesn’t prove he did it.”
New evidence can come into play at any time as long as it’s presented to both parties.
Hosford said in those situations, it’s common to see prosecutors ask for a continuance of the trial, like most recently in Noxubee County that WCBI reported on Wednesday.