What is the Difference Between Being Charged and Being Convicted

November 4, 2022


Criminal Case


With the rising popularity of crime and punishment shows, most people think they know how the law works. However, the general public is rarely privy to the law’s varied facets. There are many intricacies and steps that modern television and movies don’t show or emphasize. If you find yourself charged with a crime, you may think you’re going to prison. That is not necessarily the case! There is a big difference between being charged and a conviction. Read on to find out more and how you can get assistance in this position. 

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What Does Charged for a Crime Mean?

Being charged with a crime means that the government has made a formal allegation of an offense. In other words, it means the government has decided to claim that you broke the law. This sounds serious, but it is essential to keep in mind that it is simply an allegation for a crime that was supposedly committed – it is in no way an assertion of guilt. To charge an individual with a crime, the government must have probable cause. 

What is Probable Cause? 

Probable cause is a standard by which the government and policing authorities have grounds to arrest a suspect or issue a search warrant. Probable cause goes by the standard that an ordinary, reasonable person would conclude that the accused individual is probably engaged in criminal activity. This term is inclusive of different time periods. It could be for a crime that was in the process of being committed, had already been committed, or was going to be committed in the future. 

What Happens When You Are Charged with a Crime? 

Charging an individual with a crime requires very little evidence on the part of the government or police. This is where the government has an incredible amount of power. The government can prove probable cause with seemingly insignificant facts or a small amount of information. Probable cause allows them to hold the accused in custody while the charges are pending. It also enables the government to impose pre-trial conditions on what the defendant can do and where they can travel.  

Don’t be mistaken – being charged with a crime is not the same as being convicted. You have not been found guilty. It is critical to remember that you are still, by the law of the United States Constitution, innocent until you are proven guilty at a fair trial where evidence is adequately evaluated. Being charged is simply a formal accusation by the government, and it has no bearing on guilt or innocence. It classifies someone as an “alleged offender,” not an actual offender. 

This turns the burden of proof on the government. Since they are making the allegation, they must find the facts that can bring about a guilty verdict. Regardless of the crimes they are accused of, every American citizen has a right to a free and fair trial presided over by an impartial elected judge. A fairly-appointed, unbiased jury must properly evaluate this evidence. Until you are found guilty by the jury and also by the judge, you are innocent, not guilty. A charge can be fought in court with the help of a criminal defense attorney to establish the accused’s innocence.  

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What Does Convicted of a Crime Mean?

After you are charged with a crime, there are two ways to reach a conviction. The first is if the accused admits to the crime in open court and agrees to accept their punishment. Most of the time, this is called pleading guilty. Sometimes, a defendant confesses during the trial. The second way is that the government represented by the prosecution team proves the allegation. They must make a case with evidence that the defendant is guilty beyond any reasonable doubt to the jury and judge. This can lead the jury to vote for a guilty verdict, which leads to a conviction and sentencing. 

The government must provide actual evidence to secure a guilty verdict. Again, this only happens during a fair trial, with an unbiased jury presided by an elected judge. Only after a conviction under these circumstances is the accused found guilty, and that guilt is established by law. A conviction is a formal decision and declaration of guilt by the court. 

What Should You Do If You’ve Been Charged with a Crime?

As you can see, there is a vast difference between being charged with a crime and being convicted. If you have been accused of crime, the first thing you need to do is remain silent. Ask for an attorney to represent your rights and best interests. This is a protection for any accused citizen under United States law. Reach out to a defense attorney as soon as possible. Establishing a solid relationship with a reputable defense attorney is imperative for a successful trial. A defense attorney can help inform you of your rights, argue for bail or against pre-trial restrictions, and defend you in your trial. They are your advocate – the better your attorney, the better probability you are acquitted. 

difference between being charged with crime and convicted of a crime

How Hultgrenn Law Can Help if You Have Been Charged with a Crime

Have you, or someone you love, been charged with a crime recently? Hultgrenn Law can help. Attorney Brian Hultgrenn is an expert in criminal law and uses his 18 years of experience as benton County Prosecutor to help his clients win cases. We will help you navigate the piles of paperwork, establish your rights, and protect your freedom. We will work with you every step of the way to ensure you are not convicted for crimes you did not commit. Call Brian Hultgrenn for a criminal defense consultation, or visit our website for a criminal defense consultation.

Post by Erin

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