“How can you defend someone who you know is guilty?”
That’s a question every criminal defense lawyer has heard.
The best answer is that when we defend the rights of the guilty, we protect the rights of the innocent. That includes our own rights.
Most lawyers will cite our legal system’s “presumption of innocence” meaning that in the eyes of the law, the defendant starts out “innocent” and is not required to prove his innocence. He doesn’t even need to testify at trial. Instead, the government prosecutor is required to prove a defendant “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
While these legal propositions, also called “the burden of proof” may allow some truly guilty defendants go free, even get away with murder, they reduce the chances that an innocent person will be convicted of a crime and sent to jail or prison.
But even with the government’s high burden of proof, the fact is that some innocent people do get sent to prison and even to death row. In Illinois, 13 defendants previously sentenced to death and awaiting execution were later determined by DNA, or other new evidence, to be innocent of their crime and released from prison. Nationwide, more than 360 people have been exonerated by DNA evidence and released from prison. But for the efforts of some hard-working criminal defense lawyers, these innocent people would have been killed by the State of Illinois.
There are many reasons why some defendants are wrongfully convicted:
· Because of some mental defect or desire for attention, some defendants confess to crimes they have not committed.
· Jailhouse informants, placed in a cell with the defendant, agree to testify that the defendant admitted doing the crime, in exchange for a reduced sentence for the informant.
· Some defendants have been convicted after being represented by incompetent, suspended, disbarred, intoxicated, or otherwise unfit attorneys.
· Some defendants have been convicted after being framed by police officer, who planted evidence.
· Some defendants have been convicted after making a false confession coerced by threats of bodily harm or actual torture.
· Some defendants have been convicted after exculpatory evidence, showing the defendant’s innocence, was lost or destroyed, or wrongfully withheld by the prosecutor.
· Some defendants have been convicted after prosecutorial misconduct – such as making improper inflammatory arguments, misrepresenting the evidence or lying to the jury.
· Some black and minority defendants have been convicted after prosecutors purposely excluded other blacks and minorities from the jury, resulting in an all-white jury.
Competent criminal defense lawyers are vital to the administration of justice in non-capital crimes, as well. When a skilled and prepared criminal defense lawyer cross-examines the State’s witnesses, and tests the sufficiency of the State’s evidence, weaknesses in the State’s case are exposed and the odds of a wrongful conviction are reduced.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, having an experienced criminal defense attorney such as Greg Martucci can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Greg Martucci will thoroughly investigate the charges, explain your constitutional rights and protect your rights, discuss your options and vigorously defend you through trial. If requested, he will also engage in plea negotiations with the prosecutor to reach a fair disposition of your case. In some cases, he can later expunge or seal all records of an arrest.
Call Martucci Law today at 630-980-8333 to schedule your free initial office consultation. Learn how we can help you face criminal charges with confidence.