I often see these high profile cases in the media about a person accused of some crime. It frustrates me how both the media and the public immediately assume that a person is guilty just because they have been arrested and accused of something. We have a Constitution that requires a person be presumed innocent. Sadly, most people nowadays presume a person is a guilty until proven innocence.
This is troubling for two reasons. First, a person can rarely prove he is innocent. Unless there is a good alibi defense or some other affirmative defense, often it comes down to one person’s word against another. If a defendant tries to prove he is innocent, he is then taking on a burden of proof in the eyes of many jurors. The trial then becomes a credibility war; which few defendants can win. Many people charged with crimes are below average intelligence, scared to death, and are not able to articulate their case well enough to convince a skeptical jury.
The second reason is that is makes jurors ineffective at doing their job. The whole concept of an unbiased jury that will decide based on the evidence goes out the window if people are pre-disposed to assume some one is guilty. The whole point of a trial is to ascertain the facts. A person whose mind if half made up can’t do that. If the emotional pull of the charge, (criminal sexual conduct with a miner, murder, robbery etc) already puts a person in state of skepticism towards the defendant the case is already lost.
People don’t understand or appreciate how many people are in prison based on false accusations and juries that believed the lies in spite of the evidence. It is important that we all keep an open mind and remember that the government may someday come after you or a loved one. The Constitution will no longer seem like a worthless piece of paper at that point.