This week the New York State Police have begun a search for a man accused of having 44 illegal credit cards. Evidence uncovered by authorities leads them to believe he committed several counts of identity theft.
The state is searching for the accused man — originally arrested in September — after he missed his court date. Under the circumstances, his case doesn’t look great. Yet, a criminal case is so different from what we’re led to believe by television, film and pop culture. What seems cut-and-dried from the outside is far from sure, take for example:
While the article linked above outlines how much evidence faces the man, that does not mean that the evidence is “good.” Police must follow strict rules while investigating someone, and if they do not, any evidence they may find is inadmissible. That could mean the entire basis for a charge no longer exists.
Eye-witness testimony is a large part of any trial; however, as we’ve learned over time: eye-witness testimony has severe flaws. Those flaws, in turn, mean that what seems like a “credible witness” may be anything but. When the police or the state build a criminal case on one person’s accusation, that case is in serious jeopardy.
Most criminal cases don’t get in front of a jury. Often cases end in a plea deal. While a plea deal is certainly faster and less expensive than a full criminal trial, there is a growing concern. It has become evident that many innocent people agree to plea deals in the first place simply to “get it over with. Most would agree that an innocent person pleading guilty to a crime they didn’t commit is not justice.
Everyone deserves a vigorous defense
The foremost principle of criminal defense is that everyone gets one. The circumstances of the case do not matter; every person facing trial is presumed innocent and should have an attorney willing to go to any length to protect that assumption. That is the only way that we have justice.