In criminal defense the right to be presumed innocent is one of the most important constitutional rights an accused person has against the power of the government. It is one of the things that sets our country apart from places Like China, the Middle East, or even the European Union. But one of the most misunderstood aspects of this sacred right that this is a right that an accused is afforded in a jury trial. In other words, once there are twelve peers sworn to uphold the law and follow the rules, you are presumed innocent. But until then, everyone, most especially the police will presume you are guilty and treat you as such.
Most, but not all district attorneys, have this same attitude too. This is the reason why it’s usually not an effective approach to go in and explain why you have been wrongly charged or tell “your side of the story.” Once you find yourself on the other side of a criminal accusation, it’s probably too late. Everyone in the system almost automatically assumes you are guilty and just trying to explain your way out of trouble. They do not have an open mind to listen and by trying to give such an explanation you are confirming their perception that you are guilty.
So what is an innocent person to do under these circumstances? We agree that it is a very frustrating dilemma and one of the reasons you need experienced defense counsel to help you navigate your way out of the system. Because in every single case, there is one very good answer.
Jurors, luckily, are very different. Jurors take their oath seriously and take the presumption of innocence seriously as well. They listen to the evidence and make a decision based on what they hear. Not based on years of seeing “so many cases” and having “heard it all before.
Having an experienced trial lawyer who knows how to try your case to a jury is one of the most important things to consider in selecting the right attorney. Because without a trial, the presumption of innocence doesn’t mean much and without the presumption of innocence and the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, we would we be?