Guilt or Innocence: Rolling Stone Cover Changes Nothing for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
An unpopular fact does not change its simple truth. Just because we don’t like something, or have already made up our minds about it, doesn’t change its nature one bit. Truth or false, our opinion does not matter. When Rolling Stone decided to put Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of its most recent issue, they committed a heinous crime in the eyes of many on social media. Hash tags calling for the magazine’s boycott raced up the trending charts on Twitter and anti-RS groups popped up all over Facebook. The argument of so many outraged people, while coming from an essentially good place, is fundamentally flawed. In fact, from a legal standpoint, putting Tsarnaev on the cover is no different than featuring any other person accused of a crime. He’s an innocent man — any criminal defense lawyer knows that.
The Presumption of Innocence is Dead
The 24-hour media cycle is comically short on substantive news. A national tragedy like the Boston Marathon bombing presents fertile ground for story angles both real and imagined. It keeps the viewers glued to the station, and deprives those accused of the crimes any real shot at a fair trial when the time comes. What pundits, and everyday citizens alike, miss is the presumption of innocence. Tsarnaev is an innocent man. It doesn’t matter what you or I believe about the crimes he’s accused of committing. In the eyes of law at this point he is not guilty of committing them. Our justice system does not hand down verdicts based on public outcry, nor do we treat the accused as a criminal before the fact is established. We may take measures to make certain they appear for court hearings and preserve public safety, but we’re not about to ready the execution chamber without formal proceedings. The problem with media saturation in our country is that it robs the accused of the presumption of innocence.
It puts the whole system on shaky legal ground.
What if Your Life Was at Stake?
In choosing to judge one person based on what the public perceives as an overwhelming amount of evidence, they ignore one small detail — suppose it was them facing trial? Tsarnaev has the right to a rigorous legal defense regardless on what the public opinion of his guilt or innocence is. Every person accused of a crime in the United States has that right. Would you want the public baying for your blood — tainting the jury pool in the process — months after police charged you with a crime for which you believe you’re innocent? I imagine you’d want every opportunity to defend yourself, and rightfully so. That’s essence of the American justice system. We don’t prove the absence of guilt (innocence). We prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that someone committed a crime. Let’s try to remember that going forward.
If you, or someone in your family, has been charged with a crime, you need experienced criminal defense attorneys working on your behalf. Contact our law offices today for an immediate consultation with our legal team, which features former criminal prosecutors and a former Senior Deputy District Attorney.
NO JAIL TIME
Commonwealth v. "H" (DUI case)
Client was charged with three separate DUI cases calling for mandatory minimum imprisonment of 90 days on each case. Client was advised to seek immediate intensive alcohol counseling. Client was sentenced to 1 year of house arrest after serving 3 days in the county prison.
Commonwealth v. "C" (Felony drug/Firearms case)
Client was charged with felony Delivery of drugs and illegal gun possession and was facing a mandatory 3-6 year prison sentence in the State prison system. Client was sentenced to one year of house arrest.
Commonwealth v. "S"
Client was charged with simple assault, domestic. After a hearing where evidence and testimony was presented, the entire case was dismissed by Judge Leonard Brown.
State of New Jersey v. "H"
Charges for young man charged with second degree aggravated assault were downgraded to third degree and he was accepted into the County Pretrial Intervention program with charges to be dismissed and record expunged after one year of misconduct free behavior.
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