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Category: Famous Cases

Domestic Violence, the NFL and Constitutional Rights in Criminal Cases

Domestic Violence - NFL - Sports - Seattle Criminal Lawyer Blog - Ray Rice
If you are charged with a Domestic Violence crime (or DUI, Drug Offenses, Shoplifting or Murder), you are entitled to representation by a criminal defense attorney, to have a jury trial and cross examine witnesses, and, above all, to be presumed innocent.

It is with some confusion therefore that I have been reading about the reaction to various NFL players being accused of Domestic Violence, then basically tried and convicted in the media. Even Diane Feinstein has weighed in. It seems that if the evidence is “strong” then somehow the presumption of innocence disappears.

Not so.

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Trayvon Martin and Justified Self Defense in Washington State

Bullet.jpgThe fact that George Zimmerman fatally shot and killed Trayvon Martin is tragic. It appears that Zimmerman was an overzealous neighborhood watchdog, armed with a firearm, and was looking for trouble. However, although Mr. Zimmerman’s attitude and actions may have been simply outrageous, that does not necessarily mean that he is guilty of murder… although he could be. The decision as to whether George Zimmerman is a murderer may ultimately rest in the hands of a jury.

To read more about the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin click here.

In Washington State, individuals have the right to use lawful force in certain situations. Washington State law provides that no person shall be placed in legal jeopardy for using reasonable means to protect him or herself, his or her family, or property or for coming to the aid of another who is in danger of assault, robbery, kidnapping, arson, burglary, rape, or any other violent crime.

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Roger Clemens and Perjury

Andy Petitte avoids PerjuryIn a piece in the New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, explains how a baseball icon has been reduced to the status of a suspected felon. Once again, the culprit is Clemens’ failure to simply remain silent in the face of governmental intrusion into his life.

Whether he took steroids or not, he now faces a conviction for talking. No talking, no conviction.

Simple as that.

This is why criminal defense lawyers tell their clients that the best way to avoid prosecution for a crime is to never give up your right to remain silent. The minute you start answering questions put to you by police, prosecutors or government officials like members of Congress, especially while testifying under oath, you expose yourself to criminal liability.

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Blagojevich and Remaining Silent in a Jury Trial

Blagojevich - Going to Jail

It is easy for criminal defense attorneys to tell clients that it is better not to testify during a jury trial. Convincing them to take your advice is another story. Just look at Blagojevich.

It is human nature to want to explain your way out of trouble. As described before, talking your way out of one crime can result in prosecution and conviction for another crime. Misdemeanors can turn into felonies. I’ve seen people charged with perjury, a serious felony, for trying to lie their way out of traffic tickets while under oath.

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Constitutional Rights are for Everyone, Including the Right to Shut Up

don't forget your right to Shut UpSo, we finally get to the juicy bit. This shows the other side of the bad penny you toss every time you waive the Fifth Amendment and talk to the government, and forget your right to Shut Up.

When you try to talk your way out of things, sometimes you make mistakes in the way you tell your story. Sometimes you lie. But, frankly, to be convicted of obstructing or perjury or various other ‘crimes and misdemeanors’ you only have to look guilty to a jury of your peers – after they have reviewed all of the evidence and decided your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt (of course that is all that matters to any experienced criminal defense attorney in any case, but that is a discussion for another day…

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