There was a time when the only way you would hear of a crime committed in your community was if you happened to have the newspaper delivered or were lucky enough to be home in time for the evening news. With the rise in satellite communications and the Internet, sometimes our neighbors know what we are doing even before we do!
When it comes to being accused of a serious crime, the accused is often tried in the media instead of before a jury of his or her peers. Here are a few reasons why you need expert criminal defense in a case like this.
A Good Lawyer Can Often Put a Gag on the Media
It seems like there are some cases that are a match made in heaven for a bored journalist with nothing better to do than sensationalize an already trending news story. Take, for example, O.J. Simpson and Casey Anthony. Both of those cases, whether we like to believe it or not, were probably influenced by a jury who were bombarded by radio, television, and tabloid ‘news.’
As we all know, the news can (and often does!) get it wrong, so that could work for or against the defense. In a city like Chicago, with multiple major news outlets, a winning Chicago criminal defense lawyer can move to have a gag placed on the media. It may be hard to do, but a good lawyer can make it happen.
The Media and Juror Selection
Just as the media can work for or against the accused in influencing public opinion, the media can be useful in selecting a jury. Of course, one or more of the standard questions when selecting a jury will revolve around what they’ve heard in the news and whether or not they have been influenced by what they’ve heard.
Having preconceived notions can go in either direction, so experienced criminal defense lawyers are able to use this to their advantage. Do they want someone predisposed to giving their client the benefit of the doubt? Can they find a truly unbiased juror who hasn’t read or heard an inordinate amount of commentary in the media? The long and the short of it is simply this: winning criminal defense lawyers know how to use the media to their advantage when selecting jurors.
Your Key Takeaway
When it comes to a trial by media, it has been repeatedly asserted that publicity can go either way. It’s important to find a criminal defense lawyer who knows how to use the media to their client’s advantage or put a stop to the biased commentary. In the United States, we have the right to a trial before a judge or a jury of our peers and the media is neither. If your charges are serious enough to elicit interest in the media, the best lawyer for you is a lawyer who understands what a key role the media may play in your verdict.