The criminal justice system attempts to simplify what can be a complex system by adhering to the constitution and rules of evidence. Sometimes adhering to these rules has resulted in a miscarriage of justice with an innocent man being convicted or a guilty man going free, but it has been successful for the majority of criminal cases and until a new system is developed it is constantly being reworked and revamped to be successful as often as possible. With the help of a criminal defense attorney, you will have a better chance of a successful result in your case.
Forensic science has done a lot to change the criminal justice system and make the job of the criminal defense attorney easier especially if they have a client that is innocent but looks guilty based on circumstantial evidence. The Latin phrase “corpus delicti” has been misinterpreted by many hopeful killers for years to mean the actual body of the victim. The theory goes: no body, no crime. However, corpus delicti means the body of the crime, not the body of the victim, and in fact there does not need to be a body to prove a murder has occurred. There does, however, need to be enough physical evidence to prove within reasonable doubt that the victim is dead and that the accused is responsible for that death.
Most criminal defense attorneys, however, would find it easier to fight a murder charge against their clients if there is no body because it still creates a shadow of doubt with jurors.
For example, in 2003 a suspect named Leonard Fraser admitted to killing a young teenage girl and was in fact on trial for her murder as well as another murder, when the young teenager reappeared after four years of being listed as a missing person. Cases like this may be the rare exception but for a criminal defense attorney these types of reappearances of the supposedly “dead” victim create doubt with a juror and that can be enough to prevent a conviction.
For most defendants accused of murder however, forensics has advanced far enough to make it less likely that a missing victim’s body will result in their being found innocent but a good criminal defense attorney can still build a strong case against circumstantial evidence only.
So, as forensic science improves to keep up with killers who successfully dispose of their victims, the best laid defense still relies on building a case that creates doubt of any crime even occurring at all.