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Guilty Until Proven Innocent? How Media Impacts Legal Cases

If you are accused of any crime, it would be wise to get an attorney. Legally, a person is innocent until proven guilty. However, nowadays in the court of public opinion, it seems as if you are guilty until proven innocent. Part of the reason for the shift in view is because of the media’s impact on legal cases, both criminal and civil.

So, if you are ever accused of a crime, the best thing to do is to remain silent and get an attorney. According to Summit Defense, attorneys are able to negotiate solutions for their clients that allow them to avoid jail and sometimes even prosecution — something that they wouldn’t be able to do for themselves. An attorney should be your first point of contact before the media can get their hands on the story. Here are some of the ways the media impacts legal cases.

Immediate Coverage Can Report Inaccurate Information

When an incident is first discovered, no one may know who did it, when, or why. Law enforcement officials may not have all the facts or cannot jeopardize the case by disclosing confidential information. Eyewitnesses or bystanders interviewed by the media may not always give an accurate account of what happened. Still, this information goes forth as if it is factual. Therefore, the public’s opinion of the case becomes skewed. People who are seen in the media this way are often unable to even sue for libel due to how the law is worded.

Videos and Social Media Portray Persons as Guilty

When a person is suspected of committing a crime or arrested, their name and photograph may be broadcasted on major news channels, newspapers, and social media. This type of publicity can have an impact on their career, finances, and their family. We spoke on how the media vilifies black parents after a tragedy, and it is something you do not want to happen to you

Continuous Coverage of the Incident Make it Hard to Find a Jury

It is common for the media to maintain continuous coverage of a story for days or even weeks. The continued media coverage provides a broader audience with the opportunity to become familiar with the case. This could make it challenging to sit a jury of persons who have not heard of the crime or the accused person, as well as creating a negative influence on the facts of the case.

Reporter Bias Can Influence Public Opinion

Reporters are supposed to just report on the facts, and according to Pew Research most Americans demand they do. This can be difficult, especially if a similar incident has impacted the reporter’s life. A reporter’s passion can help drive a story, but bias reporting can also influence the opinions of others.

Because of the media, an accused person is tried first in the court of public opinion. If the person does not publicly defend themselves, they can be viewed as guilty. If a person cannot speak about the facts of a case to protect themselves, the best thing for that person to do is to get an attorney to speak for them.

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