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I'm writing a story and need to know some things for factual accuracy.

There's a man in the story who is accused of a DUI hit-and-run. He's discovered (sleeping) in the vehicle after the hit and run. However, it's actually another person who committed the hit and run, then moved the (still sleeping) guy from the passenger side to the driver's side. There is very little evidence (witnesses, CCTV, etc.) of the accident, and basically there's only circumstantial evidence linking him to the crime; he was in the guilty vehicle immediately after the accident.

What happens when there's not enough evidence in a trial (When it's pretty obvious that the guy committed the crime, but he doesn't remember anything and therefore does not admit to the crime)?

Do they do further research?

When is the further research done?

Is the trial paused while the research goes on?

Does the trial end as "not enough evidence" then a separate trial starts after research/collection of evidence is done?

Similarly (but separately), what happens if, in the middle of a trial, (like between the sessions of a single trial) further evidence is found that suggests a different story?

I'll be specific: In the story, the trial goes on, then in the middle, evidence is found that essentially proves the existence of a second person in the car at the time of the accident (while it was originally believed that there was only one).

What happens when something like that happens? Is time alotted for the research and discovery of the identity of that "second person" (who can offer further evidence, or in this case, is the actual criminal)?

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    In what jurisdiction wuld this hypothetical trial take place? Procedures differ. – David Siegel Aug 25 at 12:23
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Procedures differ on such things. The closest I know of to an outcome of "not enough evidence" is the classic "scotch verdict" of "Not Proven.

In the US, the prosecutor can wait to proceed with a criminal case while s/he does (or has done) as much investigation as s/he thinks is advisable. But once the trial starts, it normally proceeds to a conclusion. If there is not enough evidence to convict, the result should be "not guilty" and that will bar any future trial of the same person for the same offense under the doctrine of Double Jeopardy.

Circumstantial evidence, as described in the question, can be enough to convict, if the jury (or judge in a bench trial) is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty. Exactly how much evidence it takes to convince a Jury varies, and there is not a clear standard other than the phrase " beyond a reasonable doubt".

The judge, or a later appeals court, can set aside a jury verdict for insufficient evidence, but only by finding that no reasonable jury could have convicted on the evidence pre3sented, taking it in the light most favorable to conviction. Judges are reluctant to set aside jury verdicts unless they appear badly wrong.

If further evidence is found during the trial, which tends to show the accused is not guilty, the prosecutor can request that the trial be halted. This may or may not bar a future re-trial of the same defendant, depending on whether the dismissal is 'without prejudice", a decision the Judge makes. But once evidence has been started to be presented, dismissals are usually "with prejudice" meaning that double jeopardy applies.

The defense can also request a dismissal, most often at the end of the prosecution case. In rare circumstances the Judge may dismiss without a request from either prosecution or defense. These will most often be "with prejudice"

It is possible for the trial to be recessed while new evidence is evaluated or sought, but this is rare and usually only for a short time -- a day or two, perhaps.

In general a prosecutor is not supposed to schedule a trial if there is any reasonable chance of additional evidence coming to light. It can and does happen, but the system tries to avoid it, and does not easily accept that it has happened.

This answer is US-Specific, and different answers may apply in other places.

  • This is supposed to take place in Korea, HOWEVER it does not really matter since the story isn't going to be shown to a broad audience to be evaluated. I just need it to make some sort of sense, in the section of Law. Thank you so much for your answer, I would select it as the answer but I'm sort of waiting for other people to add their knowledge as well (since people wouldn't come in a post marked "answered"). Your post more or less answers my question though, thank you again!! – BeardWix Aug 25 at 14:05
  • Very rare to disturb the facts found by the fact finders (jury or judge). There must be at least some evidence, however trivial, for every element of the case. If there is even one element for which there is no evidence, a guilty verdict cannot stand. And a trial judge, who didn't so find against a guilty verdict by the jury, would get berated by the appellate court. – Wm Wolff - Law Exam Guides Aug 26 at 2:06
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There's a man in the story who is accused of a DUI hit-and-run. He's discovered (sleeping) in the vehicle after the hit and run.

In many jurisdictions, finding someone drunk behind the wheel of a car that had just been involved in a hit-and-run accident would (legitimately) be enough for a conviction, even without further evidence.

Police would probably obtain a court order to draw his blood to prove legal intoxication, but wouldn't need CCTV or witnesses or a confession to get a conviction.

What happens when there's not enough evidence in a trial (When it's pretty obvious that the guy committed the crime, but he doesn't remember anything and therefore does not admit to the crime)?

Prosecutors wouldn't normally bring charges and go to trial unless (they believe) there is sufficient evidence, so that decision is made before any trial begins. If charges are brought anyway, the defense can ask the judge to dismiss charges based on lack of evidence.

Similarly (but separately), what happens if, in the middle of a trial, (like between the sessions of a single trial) further evidence is found that suggests a different story?

Hard to say; depending on what the evidence showed, the judge might dismiss charges, either side might request a continuance to investigate this new evidence, the prosecutor might withdraw charges, or might just drop or change individual charges (if the new evidence disproved the hit-and-run, but didn't disprove the DUI, for example).

The truth is that Perry Mason Moments are rare in real life, but for your story having one side or the other ask the judge for a delay in the trial for some reason makes sense.

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