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Holding the government to its high burden of proof

Many St. Louis residents are used to getting things done with the help of others. From accomplishing tasks with co-workers to planning events with family and friends, it often makes things much easier when multiple people are involved.

This is not always the case, however, as there are certain instances where having multiple people involved can complicate matters. In the criminal justice system, when multiple individuals are alleged to have committed a crime together, it can take some time and effort to sort out the charges brought by the government and separate the allegations against each individual person.

For example, 13 individuals recently were indicted on charges of fraud in St. Louis. The individuals are alleged to have altered documents to obtain state-issued vehicle titles. If convicted, the individuals could face up to 20 years in prison.

There can be different considerations at play when multiple individuals are charged with the same or similar crimes, particularly if the individuals are charged together in the same case. The government often attempts to get one or more of the individuals to reach a plea deal, after which that person may be asked to testify against the others.

In any event, even when multiple individuals are charged together, it is important to remember that the government must prove each individual's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that, even if there is strong evidence against a different person who is charged, there still must be proof to convict others of the crime charged. Accordingly, it is essential that defendants hold the government to its high burden of proof when they are charged along with other individuals in a case, particularly with fraud cases, which involve highly-specific questions of intent.

Source: St. Louis Post Dispatch, "Thirteen St. Louis-area people indicted on fraud charges in vehicle title scheme," Nov. 17, 2014

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Frank, Juengel & Radefeld,
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