A recent article in the Panama City News Herald brings up an issue that our criminal defense law firm has noticed for years: the “death burden.” That is, the tendency of jurors to convict defendants in more serious cases such as murder as compared with crimes such as DUI or domestic violence.
As the article correctly points out, jurors in county court, where DUI and domestic violence are common cases, tend to empathize with the defendant, perhaps thinking back to an incident when they might have gotten charged with a similar crime themselves. In circuit court, on the other hand, defendants are convicted at a higher rate, despite the fact the burned of proof in both misdemeanor and felony trials are the same (beyond a reasonable doubt). And in both scenarios, jurors are told that the defendant is innocent until proven guilty.
This issue highlights why it’s so important for those charged with a crime to choose an experienced criminal defense attorney to ensure the best possible legal counsel. A skilled lawyer knows how to handle this challenge and build a persuasive case.
Source: The little courtroom: County court is where trial attorneys are made, NewsHerald.com, October 31, 2009
Contact a South Florida criminal defense attorney if you have been arrested and charged with a crime.