In my last posting, we spoke about a particular defendant who was arrested for drug crimes. Members of his family were also arrested at the scene for, basically, trying to prevent the arrest from taking place as the officers had intended it. Let’s call them, collectively, the “Defendant Family”.
On Thursday, I indicated that the Defendant Family would already be affected by their arrest even if they ended up being found “not guilty”.
What many people still do not realize is that you do not need to be convicted to lose your “innocence” under the law.
A Clerk Magistrate hearing takes place in some cases before an arraignment. There is no judge at such a hearing, only a Clerk Magistrate. The purpose of the hearing is to decide if there is probable cause for the Clerk Magistrate to issue a criminal complaint. Should the criminal complaint issue, the next step is an arraignment.
This is why the Clerk Magistrates hearing is so critical to a defendant. It is the last stop before an arraignment. It is more than worth doing all that you can, usually through counsel, to get one. We have discussed the requirements and procedures for this in earlier blogs and, I am sure, will return to them again at some point.
But not today.
As you know, an arraignment is the first time a criminal defendant appears before a judge. At the arraignment, a defendant effectively loses his or her presumption of innocence.
“Sam, how can that be? We are all told that the presumption of innocence never ends unless and until the government proves the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt before a judge or jury.”
You’re right. That is what we are told. In some cases, it is actually close to true.