If you’ve ever wanted to know what really happens in the Criminal Justice System, simply turn on the television. Plop on the couch and turn to an old Matlock rerun. Or better yet, if you search a bit, you’ll probably find a Perry Mason classic. With little effort, you’ll find an episode of Law and Order, or some spin-off of that show, on probably about a half a dozen cable stations at one time. School is in session. The first thing that we learn from our favorite T.V. dramas is that the person accused of the crime will eventually be exonerated if he or she didn’t commit the offense. Usually it will happen during a blistering cross examination of a witness who cracks under pressure and admits that he, and not the accused, actually committed the crime. Also, you can count on getting that warm and fuzzy feeling in your heart toward the show’s conclusion knowing that the person who committed the crime will be captured, convicted and then fairly sentenced for what he or she did. T.V. dramas also show us that almost all cases actually go to trial and that trials typically last about 45 minutes, with no jury selection, no lengthy side bars, and no tremendous waiting time. Well, wake up! Get off the couch! Shake your head back and forth and welcome yourself to reality.
After working for over twenty years in the criminal arena as a prosecutor, adjunct law professor at the University of Miami School of Law and a criminal defense attorney, I can say, without reservation, that very few, if any, television dramas fairly and accurately portray what really goes on in the Criminal Justice System. Furthermore, the media, primarily unintentionally, does an equally poor job at providing the public with an accurate view. Even those who have been involved in the system by, for example, serving on a jury, being a victim and/or witness, or by being accused of a crime, don’t have a fair and accurate perspective of what truly goes on in most major criminal courthouses around the country.
In selecting, “There Is No Justice,” as the title of this article, I didn’t mean to suggest that no one in the system obtains a fair outcome. On the contrary, I believe that the system as a whole is a fair one, and by far, a better justice system than any other. By suggesting that, “There Is No Justice,” I’m stating that contrary to Aristotle’s view of justice, like cases aren’t always treated alike. Furthermore, whether someone is found guilty and/or punished fairly, hinges upon numerous factors unrelated to what the public sees as justice. Rather, factors such as money, race, luck, the judge, the prosecutor, the cops, the lawyers, the jury etc. can affect an outcome of a criminal case.
How does a teenager receive a ten year prison sentence for stealing a six pack of beer from the neighbor’s garage refrigerator? Why is Casey Anthony free right now instead of in an eight by eight prison cell? Why were the Duke Lacrosse players prosecuted and why were the charges ultimately dropped? How did George Zimmerman avoid conviction? Why does one defendant, who commits the same crime as another defendant, receive probation and the other is forced to endure time in prison?
The bottom line is that every case is different. My clients and the public don’t always understand that point. I frequently receive calls from clients who tell me that they heard about someone who did something “exactly the same” as them, or even something worse than what they did, and that person either got off or received only a minor penalty.
For example, I recently heard the following from a client facing multiple counts of fraud. “I heard about a guy prosecuted here in Miami by the same judge as mine and what he did was far worse. He got probation. Why do they want me to go to prison?” Those types of discussions can be rather frustrating. What clients just can’t understand, and/or what they don’t want to understand is that every case is different. It’s always different for some reason. Many times, that’s a good thing. We want our case to be different in certain instances. To my client’s remarks, I had to fire back, “Well, it’s possible that the defendant in the case about which you speak had the ability to pay back full restitution.” I continued, “Perhaps the prosecutor in that case wasn’t as passionate and diligent as ours?” Furthermore, I added, “Maybe the victims in his case are more compassionate than our victims.” I calmly explained, “The evidence against you is overwhelming. Your detailed confession sealed the deal for prosecutors. Even though I don’t know the facts in the case about which you are speaking, I assure you it’s different than ours.” I think he finally got the point. Fortunately, after a great deal of work and litigation over a long period of time, we eventually received the probation we were seeking.
The point is that it’s hard to compare apples to apples in this business because it’s virtually impossible for two cases to be exactly alike. It is the many differences from case to case that leads to disparities in plea bargains and affects ultimate outcomes.
If you or someone you know is either under investigation and/or has a pending criminal matter in either state or federal court, call us for a free confidential consultation. We are available 24/7 to provide you with an analysis of your situation. While every case is different, one thing is always constant. At the Law Offices of Mark Eiglarsh, we are dedicated to aggressively and zealously obtaining for you the best possible outcome under challenging circumstances. Call 305.674.0003 and visit our web site: http://speaktomark.com