Our modern court system is based on the principle that the accused is presumed innocent. A defendant must not be convicted until proven guilty ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. This places the burden of proof upon the accuser (the state or federal government). The defendant is not under the obligation to prove innocence. In practice, the enormous resources of government can infringe on the presumption of innocence.
Roman law, circa 600 AD, has the first recorded statement that the burden of proof is upon the accuser. While the legal systems of many nations recognize this basic principle, it is often violated in practice. In the United States, the presumption of innocence is linked to the right to remain silent. Miranda warnings, which must be read to the accused when arrested, specifically state that the accused has ‘the right to remain silent’. What the accused says to authorities both before and after the Miranda warning can be critical to the outcome of the case. Silence is best.
Being arrested, especially for the first time, can be a shattering experience. Freedom and property are at jeopardy. People make irrational decisions when stressed to this level. Miranda warnings also state that “You have to right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be provided for you at no cost to you.” At this point, it is in the best interests of the accused to remain silent while considering their next move. Public Defenders are often overwhelmed by the sheer volume of their caseloads. Most people feel more comfortable when represented by the attorney of their choice. The best choice is often an experienced local attorney who is familiar with judges, other attorneys and any idiosyncrasies of the local justice system.
Marc A. Zeve is an experienced criminal and DUI Lawyer in Salisbury, MD who has been representing defendants for 25 years. His firm has handled a wide variety of cases including homicide, drug and gun possession, bench warrants, theft, DUI and domestic violence. He graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law, J.D., in 1989 and is a member of the Bar Associations of Worcester County, Frederick County and Montgomery County. He is also a Public Defender panel attorney. Visit their website for further information.