You would think a not guilty finding at trial would make any defendant happy. And while it’s no doubt a relief after facing the potential prison sentence, being released from the local jail after pre-trial lockup can bring its own handful of hardships. A piece in the Columbus Dispatch this week looked at the obstacles acquitted citizens face after leaving jail.
If you’re incarcerated in prison and later found to have been wrongly convicted, you are entitled to compensation under state law. If, however, you are held in the local jail until your trial date and then found not guilty, you get nothing but a “good luck” when you are freed. And for many defendants who were facing serious charges and potentially in jail for a long stint, getting back to normal life can be a significant challenge.
Even those who are allowed to leave jail pending trial can face serious difficulties recovering from a criminal charge. The article looks at one man who spent 20 days in jail followed by four months at home on house arrest, where he was required to pay a $56 weekly fee for an ankle monitoring device, something he can’t be compensated for now. That same man lost his job and ended up with a lower paying one throughout the whole ordeal.
As one defense attorney states, a finding of “not guilty” isn’t the same as saying the defendant was innocent, merely that the prosecution couldn’t prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. And unless it can be proven that law enforcement and the local prosecutor moved forward with the case knowing the defendant was innocent, that defendant isn’t entitled to a reward through civil litigation either.
When you are arrested and charged with an offense, the judge determines if you will be granted bail. This determination can be made after weighing a variety of factors including the seriousness of the offense, the potential harm on you or the public if you are released, and the likelihood that you’ll return to future court dates. In some cases it’s determined that you and the public would be best served if you waited for trial in jail.
Bail is an issue that can be revisited throughout the court process. So even though you might initially be denied bail, the judge could reconsider as time goes on or as things in the case change. Your defense attorney can help argue for bail in your case.
If you are facing criminal charges and dealing with all of the stressors of preparing for court, you need an advocate in your corner. Contact our offices for a consultation on your case today.