Taking Your Case to Trial?
While an arrest can make you feel guilty—even if you are innocent—your best protection may be taking your case to trial with the strong defense. This principle is especially important for people arrested for their first—and likely only—criminal experience.
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Many people arrested are far from being hardened criminals—having simply made a mistake in judgment or having been arrested in error. For these people in particular, knowing your rights is very important. Again, being arrested—especially for a politically sensitive offense such as DWI or DUI—can make you feel guilty even if you are totally innocent. You may be thinking, “I did have a drink, so I must be guilty.” But that is not necessarily so. The possibility of feeling guilty when you are really innocent can apply to many criminal changes, including DWI, DUI, assault, drugs, theft, indecent exposure, sexual assault, fraud and traffic tickets—both misdemeanor and felony charges.
Presumption of Innocence
You basic right is the presumption of innocence, even if you believe you are guilty. For all criminal charges, the prosecution must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if the prosecution shows your guilt as more likely than not or as clear and convincing you are still not guilty under the law. The prosecutor must show your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
This legal principle is at the core of our system of legal justice and is very much tied to our personal freedoms. It requires the state to build strong cases able to convince a jury of peers. It helps discourage the state from prosecuting cases for other than criminal reasons. And it helps encourage reliable police work and investigations.