Let’s get something straight here: “not guilty” does not mean “innocent.” The two are very different terms and are often confused by those who don’t fully understand the law.
Needless to say, Massachusetts state laws are complicated. When someone is declared “not guilty” in court, it doesn’t always mean they’re innocent. Unfortunately, there are times when the opposite is also true — i.e. just because someone is, in truth, innocent, does not mean she or he will be found “not guilty.” A “not guilty” verdict simply means there was insufficient evidence to support the prosecution’s allegation(s), or that the jury was not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did, in fact, commit the crime.
Whatever Happened to “Innocent Until Proven Guilty?”
We didn’t forget about this well-known idiom (and yes, it still applies). When a person accused of a crime pleads “not guilty,” the court must treat the accused as if she or he is innocent — even if the opposite is as clear as day (think O.J. Simpson) — until it can be proven otherwise. This principle was established long ago as a way to keep innocent people out of jail and to ensure that everyone receives a fair trial.
Even if a defendant is found guilty, a good criminal defense lawyer will work hard to ensure that the trial is fair and the punishment appropriate. That’s what it means to be a lawyer, and it’s a duty that attorney Thomas Whitney takes great pride in.
Call Thomas Whitney Attorney at Law Today
With almost 40 years’ experience defending clients in Amherst and throughout the state of Massachusetts, attorney Thomas Whitney is committed to protecting those facing criminal charges. Call (413) 256-6234 now to get started.