The Unfairness of the Criminal Justice System, Even If You Win Your Case

Posted by Richard Lawson | Mar 07, 2016 | 0 Comments

I was texting my content editor tonight when she asked me whether people are made whole again after they are found "not guilty" at trial or if their case is dismissed.

The answer is not only "no," but it is even worse for an exonerated person.  There are tremendous costs associated with a successful Georgia DUI Defense.  The first and most obvious cost are legal fees.  A defendant's legal fees are not recoverable via civil suit against the State unless the prosecution of the case lacked all probable cause to arrest, and the arrest itself was the result of the fraud or criminal activity of the arresting agency or the prosecutor.

It is tough to prove that an arrest was the product of the fraud of others, and probable cause is an extremely low standard of proof.  The standard is whether there is some evidence that a crime has occurred.  In most DUI cases, the admission of drinking or the smell of alcohol, combined with a minor traffic violation is sufficient probable cause to arrest someone for DUI.  That is why it is virtually impossible to sue the police for false arrest in a DUI case.

Even worse, many people suffer administrative license suspensions while awaiting their trial dates.  In jurisdictions such as Fulton County, it can take more than 12 months to get a trial date.  As a result, a person can suffer a full one-year administrative license suspension while waiting for a trial date.  For most people, this kind of license suspension would cost them their job and fundamental freedoms.

Other expenses include paying impound fees, court stenographer fees, expert witness fees, missed days of work while in court, and the opportunity costs associated with the anxiety of being prosecuted by the government.

None of the above-listed costs (along with the countless other expenses related to a false prosecution) are reimbursed to the accused.

More important than the financial costs, an innocent defendant could never be repaid for the profound heartache associated with being forced to stand trial for something they did not do.  

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


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