The Stupidest Criminal Case Ever….
Last week I had a client acquitted in under 45 minutes of two alleged sex crimes. Since the day this client retained me I nick-named his case the Stupidest Criminal Defense Case Ever. Why? The allegations were ridiculous. The only way to find all of the statutory elements based on the contents of the police reports required an active imagination. A very active imagination.
Unfortunately I can’t disclose the specific facts – it’s such an odd scenario it could give away the client’s identity. It was akin to being arrested for being breaking into a house and law enforcement wouldn’t believe the client actually owned the house no matter what anyone told them or what evidence they were given. It felt like practicing law in a county where the standard was guilty until proven innocent!
No matter how hard I tried I could not get the DA to dismiss the charges. The client was facing terrible consequences; if he had been convicted he would have had to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. He would have been forced to move from the home he had lived in for nearly 30 years because of sex offender residency restrictions. He would have lost his job and his good name. And worst of all he hadn’t committed a crime!
I generally like to think prosecutors use their vast discretion wisely. But some District Attorney actually filed this case. Some law enforcement officer forwarded the case to the DA’s office because he thought there was a crime. It was a blunt reminder that innocent people can and do get prosecuted.
The truth of the matter is – it happens. Innocent people get accused of horrible crimes, crimes that if they were convicted would ruin their lives and change their families forever. And unfortunately they spend thousands of dollars defending themselves against charges that should never go to trial. Equally as unfortunate is this isn’t the first time I’ve tried a case where the prosecution was being ridiculous.
As it turns out, I wasn’t alone in thinking the allegations were ridiculous. Any jury that comes back in under 45 minutes doesn’t need to think about the allegations – the evidence is clear. My client and his family will be eternally grateful to those twelve strangers. Unfortunately, if history is any indicator, the evidence is also clear my client isn’t the last innocent person who will be charged with a crime and forced to go through the stress and strain of criminal jury trial to prove his innocence.
It’s hard to imagine a case like this being brought against a friend, family member or a client. If that does happen take the allegations seriously. No matter how ridiculous the allegations don’t assume the prosecutor is going to do the right thing and dismiss the charges. In criminal cases the courts’ have extremely limited gate-keeping abilities – there are no motions for summary judgment to knock out weak cases. Contact experienced criminal defense counsel.