Recently, our firm obtained a Not Guilty verdict at a jury trial involving a sexual assault case against a minor. This was no small feat. Anyone would tell you how hard it is to obtain a Not Guilty Verdict, especially in a culture where most jurors are reluctant not to believe an accuser, which is nowhere as true as when that accuser is a minor.
Our client was charged with two counts of Criminal Sexual Assault, both Class 1 felony offenses. Neither count was eligible for probation, meaning that our client would have had to be sentenced to prison had he been found guilty. To make matters worse, the prison sentence he faced was 30 to 80 years, and that time would have had to be served at 85%. It was the kind of case police and prosecutors love getting attention over, because it was the kind of case every prosecutor wins—or, at least, that was the way it was supposed to happen. For our client, however, it was the rest of his life.
When our client was charged in 2017, the media couldn't wait to pick up the story. Countless media outlets carried the story of our client facing such serious charges. Some examples of media outlets that ran with the story about our client being charged include the Peoria Star, NBC News 25 out of Peoria, WMBD WYZZ Television out of Peoria ABC/CBS KHQA news out of Quincy, and Macomb radio 1510 AM, 93.1 FM, and 104.7 FM.
We held a three-day-long trial, and a lot of interesting evidence came out at trial that not only showed the accuser to be lying, but also showed our client's innocence as well as a terribly botched police investigation. (These details will be discussed in Part 2 in this blog article series.) On day three, the jury began deliberations, and was out for hours. One can only imagine the discussions they must have had over the evidence, so much so that they asked 2 questions while deliberating. After four long hours that seemed like an eternity, it was announced that the jury—12 strangers who only met because an innocent man was charged—the jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty.
We were exonerated! Our client was a free man! But the media was silent.
After the numerous reports of his being charged, all of which were one-sided and told only half the story, not a single media outlet reported on a man being wrongfully accused, or that our system works and he had been acquitted! One has to ask why, but in order to answer that question, one has to know more about the trial itself. Details that came out at trial will be included in the second installment of this blog article series.
Copyright © 2018 by Brendan Bukalski
The information provided in this column is general in nature, and should not be relied upon as legal advice or interpreted as creating an attorney-client relationship . As a general rule, all specific legal problems should be handled by an individual's attorney. All rights reserved. Any copying, duplication, or commercial use of the information contained in this column is strictly prohibited without prior permission.