February 23rd, 2017 by Attorney Dan Carman
We live in a society that thrives on sensationalism, where mere accusations are often equated with guilt, despite the legal principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty. The more sordid the alleged details, the harder it can be for the facts to sway the public’s mindset. Perhaps it’s just human nature to want to believe the worst in others, but wouldn’t it be better for society if we gave our fellow humans the benefit of the doubt? While it can hard to put blind faith in the legal system, imagine what you would want if you were accused of committing a crime. Of course, some defendants are guilty, but everyone deserves to be charged with the appropriate crime, have a fair trial, and if convicted receive a commensurate sentence.
Some of the biggest names in entertainment and sports have had their legacies colored by criminal accusations. Whether they accepted plea deals or were completely exonerated, they all lived (at least for a time) under the spotlight of being presumed guilty until proven otherwise. Pop star Michael Jackson was unanimously acquitted of child molestation and related charges. Different instances of domestic violence charges ended with actor Charlie Sheen’s entering pleas of no contest and of guilty. Musician David Bowie appeared in the “coolest mugshot of all time” after he was arrested in Rochester, NY on charges of marijuana possession, which were dismissed when a grand jury declined to indict him. Sexual assault allegations against magician David Copperfield were dropped after a two-year FBI investigation found no evidence of illegal behavior (in fact, his accuser was later arrested herself on charges of making false allegations against another man).
Although aggravated assault charges against NFL player Ray Rice were dropped after he agreed to undergo court-supervised counseling, they effectively ended his career. NBA player Kobe Bryant’s career also suffered when he was accused of sexual assault and false imprisonment, though it rebounded once the case was dismissed. Currently, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is being investigated by the NFL regarding allegations of domestic violence — despite the decision of the prosecutor’s office not to pursue charges. Domestic violence allegations led the NFL to take action against New York Giants kicker Josh Brown under its personal conduct policy, again despite the prosecutor’s conclusion that no formal charges should be filed.
No one is immune to the court of public opinion, which can be harsh but is never legally binding. In some instances, it can be possible to fight back, as with Oakland Raiders safety Nate Allen, who is suing city officials over his unlawful arrest on a misdemeanor charge of which he was cleared. Chicago Bears defensive end Ray McDonald filed a defamation lawsuit against the woman who accused him of rape, saying that the allegation was false and jeopardized his football career. Although he was not victorious, many people do bring successful defamation claims.
There are (at least) two sides to every story. No matter what the circumstances are, if you’ve been accused of a crime or have questions about how the law might apply to your situation, discuss it with one of the attorneys at the Lexington, KY-based Carman Law Firm. As criminal defense attorneys with years of experience, we offer thorough, experienced representation. Call today at (859) 685-1055 or fill out this online contact form to find out how we can help you.