Sex Crimes are some of the most difficult crimes to defend against, not only due to the social stigma that accompanies the allegation but also because of the penalties associated with the crimes. Everyone knows that if you are charged with a crime you are to be innocent until proven guilty. Generally speaking, that is always the case, but it seems when dealing with a crime related to a sex offense, some jurors already have their mind made up.
The first job of the defense is to shift that burden back to the prosecution. This is a difficult task, but any seasoned trial attorney can accomplish this in voir dire – or jury selection. Shifting the burden back to the prosecution begins by addressing the stigma to perspective jurors.
Obviously, each case is different, the facts, the judges, and even the defendant all play a role in how to effectively accomplish this, but the questions asked to the jurors will open the minds of everyone that the defendant may actually be innocent of the crime. But that is just the first step. The second step of burden shifting is not only making the perspective jurors understand that the defendant may be innocent, it is making sure the jury can say those two words every defense attorney loves to hear. Not guilty. Probing into the jurors’ minds is something that needs to be done and done successfully because that is the only window into how that specific juror thinks. It is imperative that the defense attorney uncovers biases and past issues relating to the specific crime.
It is those innate biases that every person has concerning sex crimes that must be addressed in jury selection, or the burden will not shift back to the prosecution. The facts of the specific case will guide the questioning and the use of challenges to dismiss potential jurors, but the trial itself can be won or lost at this stage.
The burden on sex cases is a difficult thing to overcome. A lot of the time, the prosecution will have a strong case, it is made even stronger by the social and personal biases of the potential jurors. That is why it is very important to have a clear strategy when entering jury selection. Sex cases are very difficult cases to defend because the spotlight is always on the defense, but knowing, identifying, and understanding the biases of people will go a very long way in successfully defending these cases. Work with an experienced attorney about your options today such as the Criminal Defense Attorney Waukegan IL locals turn to.
Thanks to authors at McCullom Hodgkinson P.C. for insight into Criminal Law.