The news media often attempts to portray those facing criminal charges as incurable scoundrels who have always led a life of crime. In so doing, they not only rush to judgment of the specific charges, but also attempt to portray the suspect as someone with whom you would never associate. Rarely, if ever, is the suspect portrayed as member of the community who may be completely innocent of the alleged conduct, or simply have made some bad choices.
Occasionally, however, a criminal suspect does not fit the mold into which the media would like to place them. Recently, a former sheriff’s deputy was charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Law enforcement authorities allege that the former deputy accepted bribes in return for smuggling drugs into Fulton County Prison. Presumably, as a sheriff’s deputy, this man did not live in the shadows waiting to commit a crime, but instead went to work every day and paid his taxes.
Even as in this case, where the man pleaded guilty to the charges, the notion that every criminal suspect is a thug or caricature from an episode of “Law and Order,” does not fit. Just as the news media like to sensationalize criminal cases, many members of the public are all too willing to act as judge and jury as soon as criminal charges are filed.
People facing criminal charges have a right to defend themselves in court. Many times the case is not the open-and-shut affair that prosecutors and the ten o’clock news make it out to be.
Source: CBS Atlanta, “Ex-deputy pleads guilty to corruption charges,” Mandi Milligan and Adam Murphy, Nov. 8, 2011