One of the foundational principles of the American justice system is the idea that all of us are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Many of us have heard expressions of this idea countless times in television, movies and other entertainment without giving it much thought. If you have been accused of a crime however, you will quickly understand why it is so important.
Essentially, the presumption of innocence means the burden of proving your guilt is on the prosecution. Theoretically speaking, if you have been accused of a crime, you don’t have to say a thing in your defense. It is up to the prosecution to provide evidence and convince a court of your guilt. If police and prosecutors don’t have sufficient evidence, they won’t be able to win a conviction against you.
Practically speaking however, it is absolutely crucial that you do mount a defense. For one thing, prosecutors ordinarily file charges only after they are convinced they have enough evidence to convict the defendant. When they do file charges, prosecutors have enormous resources at their disposal. They also tend to be well-trained and highly motivated to win convictions. From the defendant’s perspective, it doesn’t help that the news media and the public tend to assume that a person accused of a crime is always guilty.
When attorneys defend their clients from criminal charges, one of their most important tasks is to analyze the evidence the prosecution is going to use. Was the evidence obtained legally? If not, can it be suppressed from court? Does the evidence really support the version of events the prosecution is going to tell the court, or is there a better explanation for what happened?
If you have been accused of a crime, you don’t want to sit back and hope the prosecution fails to convince the court of your guilt. With the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney, you may be able to weaken the prosecution’s case against you, so that you can beat the charges, or at least minimize the damage these charges will do to your life.