It’s the type of case that our South Florida criminal defense attorneys are certainly familiar with: a pastor is arrested and charged with the crime of child molestation. In recent years, these types of stories have filled newspapers, airwaves, dinner table discussions.
Nevertheless, the rise in accusations, charges and convictions does not mean that all indictments are warranted; the burden of proof remains on the prosecution, and when there is not ample evidence, the accused cannot be found guilty of having committed a crime.
This was the case of Jeffrey London, a Fort Lauderdale youth pastor who was found not guilty by a jury of his peers in Fort Lauderdale las week. After a trial filled with graphic and heartbreaking testimony (not necessarily to be confused with factual recollections) of lewd text message exchanges and inappropriate touching, London was acquitted of the charges against him, reinforcing the sacred notion that a defendant should be assumed innocent until/unless proven guilty.
While his accusers and alleged victims have taken the decision as a hard blow, London, his family, and those who believe strongly in legal theory of presumed innocence, applauded the decision. Emboldened by the 1978 case Taylor v. Kentucky, in which the United States Supreme Court reaffirmed that a defendant is assumed innocent in the absence of evidence to the contrary, the aforementioned legal theory is a backbone of our criminal justice system.
In criminal cases, especially cases during which the prosectuion purposefully tugs at the the emotions of the members of the jury and the general public, it is important to remember that objectivity is key; in fact, it’s required. Letting emotions (such as the entirely understandable concern for the welfare of children) influence decisionmaking is a dangerous practice. Furthermore, in analyzing the result of a criminal trial, it is imperative to put aside the question of whether or not you think the defendant committed the crime.
Instead, the focus should be and must be on the evidence at hand and whether or not the prosecution thoroughly presented sufficient evidence to convict the defendant of the crimes for which he had been charged. In this case, according to the Sun Sentinel, there was a complete lack of hard DNA evidence and, therefore, the Broward County jury had no legitimate choice but to find London not guilty of the charges against him.
Criminal defense lawyers, such as our experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert, do not exist for the purpose of letting guilty individuals get away with heinous crimes. The fact is, though, that if we lived in a society in which the accused were automatically damned to prison time and/or worse, nobody would be free from being punished for crimes they did not commit; innocent people would be locked up and/or executed for actions they did not carry-out.
If you have been accused of a crime in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade County, you deserve an experienced criminald defense team to advocate for your rights and make sure that you receive a fair trial, one to which you are entitled given the 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. For a free consultation, please contact our criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert by calling 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363). We look forward to assisting you.