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William Gladstone, a 19th century English politician, once said “Justice delayed is justice denied.” It is fairly obvious that Gladstone was not a criminal attorney in St. Paul, MN. Very often, defense attorneys intentionally delay cases as long as possible, for strategic reasons.
To be sure, swift justice is often necessary. That’s especially true if the defendant cannot make bail and remains in jail.
But in many other situations, delay helps criminal attorneys in St. Paul, MN obtain the best possible results. No one really likes delay, least of all criminal defendants. Indeed, everyone often wants to “get it over with.” But attorneys take oaths to represent their clients as zealously as possible, and not do what is convenient for them at the time.
In many criminal cases, most notably unlawful possession cases, like guns or drugs, the arresting officer is the only witness. This person gives evidence about the stop, the evidence seizure, and the arrest. Ramsey County prosecutors do not need to prove anything else.
But in theft, embezzlement, fraud, and other white-collar crimes, a complaining witness must also testify. Generally, the property’s owner is the complaining witness. Minnesota law is quite broad on this point. Anyone with a superior right to possession, such as a store detective, might be an “owner” in this context.
In many theft cases, police officers arrest suspects before the owner loses the property. That’s especially true in shoplifting cases. Since the owner has lost nothing, the owner is usually not very interested in the case. In fact, if a criminal attorney in St. Paul can delay the case for several months, the owner may lose interest in the matter altogether. If there is no complaining witness, the prosecution’s case may fall down like a house of cards.
Technically, prosecutors can subpoena reluctant witnesses and force them to testify against their will. But the court’s subpoena power is limited, usually to 150 miles. If the complaining witness moves outside that zone, subpoena is not an option.
Basically these same dynamics apply in assault cases, especially if the alleged victim did not sustain a serious injury. As for the emotional harm, there is a saying that time heals all wounds. That’s not true in all cases, but it is often true in assault cases.
Alleged victims cannot “drop” assault or other charges. Only prosecuting attorneys can do that. However, if the witness is reluctant to testify or entirely unavailable, prosecutors may voluntarily dismiss the matter or at least reduce the charges to a lesser-included offense, like reckless conduct.
One reason many defendants do not like delay is that they must abide by restrictive bail conditions. For example, an Ignition Interlock Device is a common DWI bail condition in Ramsey County. But in this particular context, the restrictive conditions may favor the defendant.
If a DWI defendant drives with an IID for several months without issue, it is easier for a criminal attorney in St. Paul, MN to cast the arrest as a one-time aberration. As a result, the jury may scrutinize the state’s evidence even more closely. Or, during punishment, the jury may recommend a much lower sentence.
Long delays also set up a before-and-after argument, which is often effective in DWIs. If the defendant got help for an alcohol problem, a criminal attorney in St. Paul, MN can argue that the DWI happened because of that addiction. Now that the addiction is gone, there is no reason to punish the defendant.
Crimes motivated by racial or other animus always make the headlines and always make the rounds on social media. That’s usually enough to create at least some juror bias. And, in a close case, a little bias may make a very big difference in the outcome.
Delay has a calming effect. That’s why therapists often tell people to count to ten when they get angry. After several months, the furor dies down considerably. Yes, the media may play up the story once again, with headlines like “Accused Hate Crime Murder Suspect to Stand Trial.” But, the effect is not the same.
Justice delayed is not always justice denied. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal attorney in St. Paul, MN, contact Capitol City Law Group, LLC. Go online now, call us at (651) 998-7634, or stop by 287 6th St E, Suite 20, St Paul, MN 55101.