Is a Fair Trial Possible for a Property Crime Charge in Spokane?

vandalized home

The Constitution of the United States assures every citizen a trial by a fair and impartial jury. That, of course is the ideal; and for the most part, judges and attorneys conscientiously screen possible jurors for any prejudice or partiality.

However, selecting a jury for a crime such as DUI and finding an impartial jury can sometimes be difficult. After all, who hasn’t been affected in some way or another by the negligence of a drunk driver? Is it even possible to seat a 12-person jury in a DUI vehicular manslaughter case where there isn’t more than a modicum of hard feelings on the matter? Could the defendant come to represent the loss of a loved one due to drunk driving; and would that affect the impartiality of the jury?

It does make you think.

What about other types of crime? In Spokane, property crime is a problem. The Spokesman Review, in their June 23, 2013 issue, highlighted Spokane’s property crime problem with the story of young Aaron Crummett who had three brand new bicycles stolen from his yard in as many years. His dad also lost a bicycle during that time and his mother had her keys stolen from a locked locker at the YMCA. That is five property crimes for one family. On a city level, according to the article, “One out of every 11 Spokane residents was the victim of a theft, burglary, or other property crime last year.”

This is a concern for the mayor, the police chief, the prosecuting attorney, and the entire police force. For obvious reasons, they are working to find solutions to this problem. However, in this effort, sometimes the wrong person gets arrested.

Who is impartial?

In a city where nearly 10 percent of the population was the victim of a property crime last year, how do we assure that an innocent defendant doesn’t become a victim of bias?

By default, criminal lawyers in Spokane will do all they can to make sure that the stop and arrest of the defendant was legal and that due process was followed precisely. Some may see this as just legal maneuvering and getting people off on a technicality. However, that is a flawed view since those “technicalities” exist to prevent the arrest of innocent bystanders in the first place.

Finding an impartial jury for a property crime trial could be a problem in Spokane, since there are more victims and friends of victims who may be looking for some form of retribution for their losses. It becomes a challenge for the defense to seat an objective jury.

In our rush to protect property, we shouldn’t overlook other basic rights, such as presumed innocence. John Adams, our second president and co-author of every founding document of this country, declared that it would be better to let the guilty go free than to wrongfully convict an innocent man. The prosecution might find such reasoning a threat to society. However, if you were that innocent man, you would be glad that your defense attorney agrees with Adams.

Is it possible to get a fair trial on a property crime in Spokane? Of course it is. However, it does require a defense attorney that is aware of the challenges of this charge in Spokane and knows how to deal with them.

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