The Fusion of Arrest with Guilt

The fusion of arrest and guilt creates confusion and prejudice for the public, as well as unfair treatment and unnecessary punishments for people who are arrested.

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An Arrest Does Not Equate to Guilt

Getting arrested for a crime does not constitute guilt. Arrest and guilt are legally distinct terms, but they are often fused together in the minds of many people. This unfair fusion creates consequences for people who are arrested even when guilt is never proven. It is used in assessing a person’s “risk,” in calculating “recidivism,” and in identifying “offenders.” The fusion of arrest and guilt creates a lot of problems within the justice system.

When a person is arrested, he/she is often considered guilty by public and private sectors. Since an arrest becomes part of an accessible permanent record, mug shots may be posted on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and private individual websites. Arrests can lead to refusal of employment, job loss, disciplinary actions in the workplace, and housing problems. Many people also face threats of losing child custody and the possibility of deportation. People who are arrested and stand trial, but are found not guilty in the end can face a variety of problems and restrictions that impact their personal lives. Unfortunately, many people who are arrested are convicted by the public well before any legal conviction takes place.

Studies on recidivism must rely on some sort of proxy to assess a person’s risk of re-offending. Court judges frequently use an arrest record to gauge a person’s risk of committing future crimes, regardless of guilt or innocence. Relying on the number of arrests and re-arrests a person has can be very inaccurate, since many people who are arrested see their charges dropped or dismissed. Arrest records do not portray an accurate picture of criminality. Arrest data also fails to account for individuals involved in criminal activity who have been missed, overlooked, or given less priority by law enforcement. Each year in the U.S., 11 million people are arrested for some type of offense, but few of these arrests lead to actual convictions.

Many people say the criminal justice system needs reforms to protect the innocent. Many law enforcement officials and criminal defense attorneys argue that recidivism should only be measured by known convictions, rather than by a person’s arrest record. Has the criminal justice system abandoned the presumption of innocence?

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Stay calm and compose after getting accused of a crime but not charged in Minneapolis, MN. Do not discuss the facts of your case with anyone, including your relatives and family members. Hire a criminal defense attorney with a demonstrated record of winning cases like yours. Your attorney will discuss your rights, guide you on how to cooperate with law enforcement within the legal boundaries, and build a solid defense strategy to fight the charges you could face in the future.
Expungement and sealing of records in Minnesota affect how your criminal history appears to government agencies and the public. The main difference between the two legal actions is that expungement permanently removes past arrests, criminal charges, or convictions from private and public databases, while sealing hides the criminal record from the public. Courts, government entities, and law enforcement agencies can access sealed criminal records.
Minnesota recently passed a public safety bill that brings sweeping changes to the state’s juvenile justice system. While minors sometimes run afoul of the law, the juvenile justice system seeks to account for the differences between children and adults. Therefore, while the penalties for adults convicted of crimes focus on punishment, those for juveniles are aimed at diversion and restorative practices.