Louisiana fans of “Law & Order” and other police and courtroom dramas are probably familiar with the fact that a criminal conviction requires a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a very important concept in criminal defense, as several high-profile Baton Rouge cases have shown recently.
East Baton Rouge Parish juries have acquitted defendants in at least three high-profile homicide cases so far this year because they found the evidence was insufficient to support finding the defendants guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. One of those cases involved allegations against a co-defendant. That co-defendant is still scheduled to be tried next March, even though the other defendant has been found not guilty
The Baton Rouge District Attorney has said that the number of acquittals this year is not unusual, and the facts of each of the three cases this year are different enough that it’s hard to reach any conclusions that might connect them to a trend or change in the law.
Still, some observers say that popular crime dramas such as “Law & Order” have made juries more sophisticated about the law than they used to be. Some others say that the acquittals show that police investigators are not being careful enough when they gather evidence.
It’s important to remember that all Louisiana residents facing allegations of crimes are entitled to a defense. Part of building a strong criminal defense is a thorough examination of the evidence and review of the circumstances of the arrest. When police have overstepped their authority in obtaining evidence, it may be possible to have that evidence excluded. This can make all the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.
Source: The Advocate, “District Attorney: High profile acquittals not a trend,” Joe Gyan Jr., Oct. 14, 2013