Guilty Once Indicted

The news headlines recently have been filled with stories about whether a former high-level official in government should have been indicted. The crime she was investigated for, and ultimately was not charged with, was under the espionage act. Specifically, she was investigated for mishandling classified materials.

Since this case involves politicians, it necessarily evokes strong emotions from both sides of the aisle. Some feel like she should have been indicted, and others feel like the lambasting she received from the FBI director was heavy handed. But the mood leaving this entire episode is that she suffered a great deal, and if indicted, would have to have left the presidential race.

A Problem With Perception

Though not easy to do, let’s set aside the politics of this story for a moment, and look at something even more important – the legal system behind it. This story reveals something that is wrong with our criminal justice system in general. That problem is the perception that comes with an indictment, formal charge, or information claiming a person committed a crime.

From the outset, we are supposed to be living in a nation where those accused of a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty. But what this news story shows is that the fallout from even talking about the possibility that someone committed a crime can taint that person’s reputation. All too often the mantra of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is just that, a mantra. Experience shows us that few judges, prosecutors, or even juries actually believe this way. As a society we are not much better. Why else do job applications, housing contracts, and other official documents inquire whether the applicant was ever accused of committing a crime?

This approach places an undue amount of confidence and reliability on the system used to indict, try, and punish people accused of a crime. After all, the people responsible for carrying out investigations, prosecuting, and trying them are just people. These people are subject to the same temptations, confusions, and mistakes as anyone else. That is, presumably, why people should be considered innocent until proven guilty.

Of course we all want professionalism and trustworthiness from the police and prosecutors that handle the criminal justice system. But we should not be so trusting and confident in their abilities that once a person is indicted for a crime, that means the person did something wrong, or that they are guilty.

DWI a Special Case

There is no group of people more aware of this principle of guilty once indicted than those accused of DWI. Public information drives, advertisements, and news stories all taint the perception of anyone charged with DWI to pretty much convict them at the point of arrest. All too often the rest of the process is just that – a process. But that is not how things happen at our firm. At The Wilder DWI Defense Firm we believe in and defend the principle that those accused of a crime are innocent until proven guilty, including DWIs. That is why we are the defense team of choice for those facing DWI charges. Contact us and we will provide you with a free case evaluation today.