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Innocent Until Proven Guilty, But You Might Still Face Penalties

One of the pillars of the U.S. criminal justice system is the presumption of innocence. That means if you are accused of committing a crime, you are considered innocent unless the State can prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you violated every element of a law. The evidentiary standards in a criminal case are high to help ensure your rights are protected and you are not wrongly convicted of and made to serve a sentence for an offense.

Unfortunately, although by legal standards you are not guilty of a crime, public opinion might see it differently. Additionally, the theory does not always hold up in practice, and innocent people could face penalties for something they didn’t do.

Measure Requiring Innocent People to Remain in Custody

A ballot initiative passed by Arizona voters in 2002 stated that persons charged with various crimes must sit in jail until their trial.

Offenses for which a person could not be released on bail included:

  • Capital offenses, sexual assault, sexual conduct with a minor 15 years of age or younger, or molestation of a minor 15 years of age or younger
  • Felony offenses that were committed when the person was released on bail for a separate crime
  • Felony crimes if the person might be dangerous to the community or others

Measures such as this create public fear and suggest that if a person committed a crime before they will do so again, so they must not be allowed in the community. The stigma attached to such misguided thoughts could be damaging to your reputation and your psychological well-being.

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that 2 provisions of the initiative were unconstitutional.

Challenging Pre-Trial Conditions

If you are arrested for a bailable offense and released pre-trial, you could still be subject to expensive or unfair punishments that seem to presume your guilt instead of your innocence. For some crimes, you might be required to wear an ankle monitor until your case is heard in court. The costs for such devices are high, and you must pay for them out of your own pocket.

The ACLU of Arizona recently appealed the pre-trial release conditions of a man who was awaiting to appear in court. The organization argued that he shouldn’t be made to pay for ankle monitoring or be held in jail until trial. It also asserted that courts should assess a person’s financial means to see if they could afford pre-trial conditions before imposing them.

The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled in the ACLU’s favor.

Trust Your Case to Bowman, Smith & Kallen

Our attorneys believe in the presumption of innocence and know that there are two sides to every story. We have provided effective counsel to individuals facing various offenses in Yuma, including drug crimes, sex crimes, and domestic violence, and we are ready to go to work for you. When you retain our services, we will fight hard to protect your rights and will work toward a favorable outcome on your behalf.

To see how we can help your case, call us at (928) 433-2355 or contact us online.