Trending Use of Fear-Driven Prosecution

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July 11, 2013

The old adage of “innocent until proven guilty” stands less firm than in years past.  Certain categories of crime elicit emotional responses that lead to pre-mature judgments.  Such judgments usually relate to personal experiences or societal generalizations, and arise from fear rather than fact.  For example, society may withhold judgment when an individual is accused of homicide, while seeming eager to pass judgment on those accused of domestic violence or sexual offenses.

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Biases against certain crimes walk into courthouses every day.  Society boasts that justice is blind, but justice is administered by jurors who reflect society’s prejudices.  Many criminal defendants understand this, and therefore fear that truth will not prevail over prejudice.  It is often fear, rather than guilt that leads to a plea deal.

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Unfortunately, fear-driven prosecution has become commonplace.  Too often, prosecutors use a laundry list of baseless charges to leverage a guilty plea, or charge someone they may not believe is guilty simply because the evidence implicates that person more than anyone else.  In other words, a wrong conviction is better than no conviction.  The result is that innocent defendants plead guilty because they fear what might happen at trial.

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Many people are unaware that the true role of a prosecutor is not to seek convictions, but rather to pursue justice.  If this were true in practice, an innocent man would view a prosecutor as an ally rather than an adversary.  Sadly, almost gone are the days that prosecutors truly seek out justice at the expense of a conviction.

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As explained above, the criminal process has become politicized.  In today’s legal climate, putting together a successful defense requires more than simply poking holes in the prosecutor’s collection of facts.  It requires time and attention.  At Heaton & Associates, you receive both.  We partner with you in every way, taking the time to understand your needs, and explaining how they would be affected by each option available to you.  Our comprehensive advice accounts for biases associated with the charges, and the prosecutor.  Further, if a plea bargain is the best option, we will be diligent in working with the prosecutor to find a compromise that protects what you value most.  At Heaton & Associates, we do not just care about your case.  We care about you.  Partner with someone you trust, and call Heaton & Associates today.

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