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Rights of the Accused: Why the Court of Public Opinion Should Stay Closed

Impartial juries are hard to come by, due in part to the 24-hour media news cycle. Information is instantly accessible by millions, and opinions form rapidly. For those accused of committing so-called “star” offenses, including sex crimes, the high profile nature of the charges may diminish one of the most basic rights guaranteed to every citizen in this country – the presumption of innocence. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney could make all the difference.

Pennsylvania Abduction Charge Leads to Indictment

Gavel 3 - Rights of the Accused: Why the Court of Public Opinion Should Stay Closed

A grand jury indicted 19-year-old Christina Regusters this week on a slew of charges that include rape and kidnapping in connection with the January abduction of a five-year-old girl. According to Philly.com, Regusters is alleged to have signed the girl out from her classroom while posing as her mother. Authorities found the girl 18 hours in a park about a mile from the school. She reportedly told her rescuer, “I’ve been stolen.” Court documents indicated the girl was sexually assaulted at some point after her kidnapping.

Regusters, who is incarcerated in lieu of $4 million, was threatened and assaulted by inmates while housed in the Philadelphia prison system. Authorities have moved her a facility in Northampton County. She continues to state her innocence.

Why We Use the Word ‘Alleged’

This woman’s reported assault and harassment as a prisoner is symptomatic of a larger judgment culture we deal with everyday in the United States. The rush to make headlines and garner viewer attention may lead media outlets to rush to post without all the facts. We saw it repeatedly in CNN’s coverage of the bombing at the Boston Marathon and police pursuit of the two suspects. We see it here again with Regusters, a 19-year-old young woman who is innocent under the law until proven guilty.

A fine line exists between the desire for justice and the will of the mob. It’s the prosecutor’s job to represent the people’s desire for that justice, just as it’s the job of defense attorneys to see that system does not punish the innocent. To ensure the accused receive the fair trial entitled to them under the law, counsel has a number of strategies at their disposal:

Change of Venue – moving the trial out of a certain mile radius of the crime may aid in locating a jury pool without much knowledge of the alleged incident. Of course, it depends on how large the media market is where the crime took place.

Dismissal of Charges – a tainted jury pool deprives the accused of their right to a fair trial. The opinion of the public, in this case, may result in a dismissal of charges if no other solution can be found.

If authorities have charged you or a family member with a crime, having an aggressive legal defense team is your best tool to preserving your rights and freedoms. Contact our law firm today to discuss the charges with our legal team. There’s a moment to lose. Call now and finally get a good night’s sleep.

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