The Mn Criminal Defense, Personal Injury & Family Law Blog
How Does a Buffalo, MN Lawyer Uphold the Presumption of Innocence in All Three Phases of a Criminal Case?
June 15, 2020
The presumption of innocence is usually associated with the seventh century Roman Emperor Justinian. But the concept of ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (the burden of proof lies upon him who affirms, not he who denies) might go back even further than that in Roman law. Jewish and Islamic religious scholars talked about this idea as well.
Today, this concept is a cornerstone of common law systems in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and a few other places. But in most parts of the world, it is almost unheard of.
Wright County prosecutors have almost unlimited resources, and they bring these resources to bear in the most serious felony and the least serious misdemeanor. The presumption of innocence is the only way a Buffalo, MN lawyer can level the playing field. So, as soon as the attorney/client partnership begins, the fight to uphold this critical concept begins as well.
Upholding the presumption of innocence begins at this point. If the defendant remains in jail, the presumption of innocence essentially becomes a presumption of guilt. Incarcerated defendants cannot participate in their own defense in any meaningful way. Additionally, defendants who are behind bars often accept help from a public defender instead of a top Buffalo, MN lawyer.
Typically, the Wright County sheriff sets presumptive bail amounts according to the severity of the offense and the defendant’s criminal record. People charged with felonies must pay more than people charged with misdemeanors. And, even if the prior conviction was completely unrelated, it usually drives up the bail amount.
Research suggests the opposite is true. People charged with serious offenses are more likely to face the music than people charged with petty offenses. Furthermore, if the defendant has been through the system before, the defendant is not as scared.
A Buffalo, MN lawyer can bring up these points during a bail reduction hearing. This hearing usually occurs within seventy-two hours of an arrest. When the case comes up, the judge considers a wide range of factors, including:
Amount of evidence the state has,
Defendant’s contacts with the community,
Risk of flight, if any, and
Defendant’s ability to pay.
Frequently, Buffalo, MN lawyers make deals with prosecutors to secure the defendant’s release. These deals usually involve some give-and-take. For example, the state might agree to reduce the bail amount if the defendant wears an ankle bracelet.
Attorneys often work out these same kinds of arrangements to resolve criminal cases. More on that below.
Lawyers in Buffalo, MN and Pretrial Matters
The police might gather evidence against the defendant, but that does not mean prosecutors can use this proof in court. If a Buffalo, MN lawyer reduces the amount of available evidence, it’s much easier to successfully resolve the charges.
Pretrial proceedings often focus on procedural matters. A police error early in the process has a significant impact on the trial. Some examples include:
Failure to Mirandize: When custodial interrogation begins, officers must give defendants their Miranda rights (you have the right to remain silent, etc.). Otherwise, any statements the defendant makes are inadmissible. Custodial interrogation starts when officers ask any questions and the defendant does not feel free to leave.
Search Warrant Issues: Possession cases always involve either search warrants or search warrant exceptions. Unless officers had a valid warrant or a narrow search warrant exception applied, any guns, drugs, or other contraband officers seized is probably inadmissible.
Lineup Issues: Criminology professionals recommend double-blind lineups. Neither the witness nor the administering officer should know the suspect’s identity. But Minnesota only requires blind lineups. Arguably, these identifications are inherently unreliable.
Buffalo, MN lawyers also do their own evidence collection. Technically, prosecutors are legally required to turn over exculpatory evidence. But they short-circuit this requirement whenever possible.
Resolving a Criminal Case
As discussed above, plea bargains resolve about 95 percent of the criminal cases in Wright County. Mostly because of the presumption of innocence, these plea bargains usually involve reduced charges and/or a reduced sentence.
Aggravated assault, which is one of the most common felonies in Minnesota, is a good example. If the evidence is weak, prosecutors often agree to reduce these charges to ordinary assault, which is a misdemeanor. Additionally, instead of lengthy incarceration, many defendants are sentenced to a brief period of probation.
If the case goes to trial, prosecutors must prove every element beyond a reasonable doubt, which brings us back to the presumption of innocence. So, in the aggravated assault example, unless there is overwhelming evidence that the defendant assaulted the victim and also caused a serious injury, the jury must acquit the defendant.
Connect with an Assertive Attorney
The presumption of innocence alone is enough to acquit a defendant in Minnesota. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Home and jail visits are available.