What Is Going To Happen To Me?
The biggest concern that a person faces when they have been charged with a crime is 'what will happen to them?' This concern is not unfounded. For most of our lives we have taken for granted that the police are the good guys and that the criminal justice system will find out the truth and act accordingly. We expect the guilty to be punished and the innocent to be freed.
Presumption of Innocence
Everyone that is charged with a criminal offense is suppose to be presumed innocent. That sounds really good but the reality is different. The presumption of innocence comes into play only at trial and, for the most part, only applies to the jury and is only as effective as your criminal attorney.
Jurors are people. When jurors come to court and are told they are going to be selected for a criminal trial the first thought when they see the defendant is "I wonder what he/she has done?" It is a natural reaction due mainly to our poor education system that has put our Rights on the back-burner of the education cook-book.
People are no longer educated in the Rights we all share. This poses a serious problem for defendants defense attorneys. We are constantly teaching the potential jurors about our Rights as they are being selected to hear the case. An effective attorney must do this and must hammer it home at trial.
The Four Factors That Influence Your Case
We are all human beings. The justice system is a reflection of those that are in it. This is not science. You can take a trial, have the prosecutor, the witnesses, the Defense Attorney, and the Judge reenact the trial exactly for different juries and have two different results. That being said, I have yet to see, first-hand, any real injustice occur after a trial. It seems that with all our frailties our system seems to get it right most of the time.
Besides the facts of the case, the four factors that play a decisive role in your case are the following:
There are variables that can affect your case. These involve personalities. We have all heard of the so-called "hanging judge." This is the judge that is real mean and punishes everyone to the max. Well, there are many different judges. I wouldn't call any a "hanging judge" but some are known for handing out harsher punishments than others.
Prosecutors can also be a factor. Prosecutors hold the power to drop a case and to make offers. They are also the ones to take a case to trial and try it. Depending on who the prosecutor is determines what types of offers can be expected and how a case will be pursued in court.
The type of crime that is alleged is also a factor. Felonies are worse than misdemeanors and violent offenses are worse than property crimes (or should be but that depends on the prosecutor). Driving without a valid drivers license can be expected to have less severe offers and/or sanctions than a drunk driving case.
Defendant's Prior History
A defendant's prior history is also a factor. A first time offender can expect a more lenient offer and, if found guilty, more lenient sanctions than a repeat offender. Moreover, Florida uses a score-sheet system for all felony cases which incorporates the nature of the offense and prior history. Regardless, prosecutors run backgrounds on all defendants and prosecutors love to tell the judge what prior arrests a defendant has. Defense attorneys constantly have to remind the prosecutor that the only things that can be counted are convictions.
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