Innocent Until Proven Guilty

A lot of people are surprised that I am a criminal defense attorney when they first meet me.  I’m not sure what they think a criminal defense attorney should look like, but judging from the reaction I commonly receive, it is clearly not a twenty-something female who was once a prosecutor.  They immediately ask questions like, “How do you do that?,” “Do you enjoy getting bad guys off?,” or, my personal favorite, “How do you sleep at night?”

I sleep very soundly, actually, knowing that, if someone is represented by me, they have received competent, zealous representation from an attorney who has the experience to defend them to the end.  When a case is brought to trial I make a point in jury selection to educate the potential jurors on the right afforded to all of us to be considered and presumed innocent until proven guilty.  When a person is brought to trial by the State, that charge is nothing more than an allegation or an accusation.  It is not a conviction.  It is the State’s burden to prove them guilty.  It is not my client’s burden to prove his innocence.

Our justice system is not perfect, because we as humans are not perfect.  To be tried by a jury of one’s peers, however, is the best way I’ve seen it done.  I’ve lost trials, but I’ve also won.  There are two sides to every story and I am thankful there are jurors out there who are willing to consider both, who are willing to see my client cloaked with innocence unless the State presents enough evidence to pull it away.  When the men and women on a jury panel listen to the reasonable doubt in a case and render their verdict accordingly, I do not feel as though a “bad guy” has gotten off.  And when the words “not guilty” are read by the clerk, I could not be more proud of what I do.

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