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How Guilt By Association Lands Innocent People in Jail

Florida DUI defense attorney A nightmare scenario: You are charged with a crime that you did not commit, convicted, sentenced to prison and led out of a courtroom in handcuffs.

Think it can’t happen? Think again.

Our legal system is supposed to be based on the assumption of “innocent until proven guilty.” What about when someone is convicted on the assumption of “guilt by association?”

It seems to fly in the face of the very concept of justice, but “guilt by association” is the idea that people – police, prosecutors, witnesses, juries, and judges – will believe that the friend of an accused criminal approves of their behavior, so they must have engaged in it as well.

How Is This Possible?

A simple example: A friend asks for a ride so they can pick up something from a store. You drive them there and wait in the car. Your friend emerges, gets back in the car and you drive away. A few miles away, your friend admits robbing the store. You could be considered an accessory to the crime – “guilt by association.”

If you can prove that you did not know your friend was going to rob the store, the court may find you innocent, but how do you prove that, especially if your so-called friend decides to implicate you as part of a plea deal? Also, if you fail to report the crime, the court is going to wonder why and could consider you an accomplice.

Even the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of police when it comes to “guilt by association.” The court upheld the drug conviction of a man who was in the same vehicle with two other people and illegal drugs, deciding police had “reasonable cause” to charge him.

When the Truth, the Whole Truth, Doesn’t Seem To Matter

You may know for a fact that you are innocent. You may believe the system works. That could be the biggest mistake of your life. In the Supreme Court case, the man was sentenced to 10 years without the possibility of parole. Where do you turn when the entire legal system seems to be working against you?

The criminal defense lawyers at Aguilar & Sieron, P.A., have been fighting for people accused of crimes in northeast Florida for more than three decades. Mark Sieron, a former Florida prosecutor, understands how the court system works. He will launch his own investigation, defending your rights against police abuses, consulting with experts and standing beside you every step of the way.

If you have been charged with a crime in Clay County or anywhere else in Florida, contact Aguilar & Sieron, P.A. for a free case consultation. The sooner we begin working for you, the quicker we can help clear your name.

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