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Jailing defendants prior to trial undermines justice

| Apr 11, 2019 | criminal defense

The typical criminal investigation by police in Florida includes the arrest of suspects. Law enforcement officers jail these people, who must then hope that they qualify for bail. Even when judges approve bail to release defendants, many people cannot afford it. They then linger in jail, sometimes for long periods of time, awaiting trial. For low-level offenses, they might languish behind bars for longer than a sentence for the crime. This situation empowers prosecutors who can gain guilty pleas in exchange for release from jail.

Many people accept such deals even when they might have won their trials. Although people worn down by waiting in jail might be issued a minimal sentence along with their freedom, they now have criminal convictions on their records. Criminal records often interfere with people’s ability to get jobs, qualify for professional licenses, obtain housing or go to school.

Those who can post bail gain the advantage of their freedom while deciding how to respond to criminal charges. They still have the ability to go to work, take care of children or find witnesses who might help build their defense case. They are less likely to grow desperate during weeks or months behind bars, and their ability to resist aggressive prosecutors should be greater.

After an arrest, a person might improve the odds of avoiding conviction for serious charges by contacting an attorney. Legal advice in the early stages may help a person understand their rights and gain an honest perspective about the situation. An attorney might urge a judge to approve bail and then guide the person through the steps of preparing for court. During this time, an attorney may be able to develop a criminal defense strategy to pressure a prosecutor into reducing charges or dropping a case altogether.