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  #1  
Old 05-06-2006, 11:34 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is online now
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If you're found not guilty can you get reimbursed for attorneys fees?

If a defendant is found not guilty does the state refund him/her for the cost of his/her defence?
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  #2  
Old 05-06-2006, 11:39 PM
Leaper Leaper is offline
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I don't see why they would. After all, a "not guilty" verdict doesn't mean that you've been proven not guilty, but that the state couldn't prove that you were. Your question, at least to me, implies a thought that the state should reimburse the defendant because they dragged an "innocent person" into court, and I don't think that's the case consistently enough to warrant such a policy. After all, if they did, they would be paying for a failed prosecution twice: once for the state-paid court and prosecutors, AND once for the defense. And this doesn't even count public defenders...
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  #3  
Old 05-06-2006, 11:54 PM
Campion Campion is offline
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Short answer: No.

Longer answer: No. Sometimes the state pays for the defense (i.e., pays for a public defender to defend an indigent defendant), or for part of the cost of defense (e.g., expert witnesses). But other than that, no. You bear the cost of your own defense.
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Old 05-07-2006, 10:16 AM
David Simmons David Simmons is offline
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Why should you be reimbursed? I think the idea of reimbursment is based on the idea that one party, in this case the state, did something wrong and that caused monetary loss to the other party, in this case you.

But the state didn't do anything wrong. The charge was made in good faith and following the development of evidence that reasonably led the prosecutor to think that he or she had a case.

Now, if the prosecutor acted in bad faith or for a personal vendetta of some sort and you could prove it, you might have grounds for a lawsuit.
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  #5  
Old 05-07-2006, 11:10 AM
Cliffy Cliffy is offline
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David, your argument assumes that to do something wrong the government has to act in bad faith. But that's not the only scheme we might have. There's a policy argument to be made that anytime the government hails someone into court on a case that it can't prove (demonstrated post hoc by the acquittal), that it's done something wrong. Certainly there are serious damages to the defendant in most instances, both the cash outlay for attorneys, loss of reputation, inability to tend to one's work when you have to concentrate on the trial, etc., etc., etc., and these all go unrecompensed.

I'm not sure I buy this argument, but you cannot pretend it doesn't exist.

--Cliffy
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  #6  
Old 05-07-2006, 02:02 PM
clairobscur clairobscur is online now
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It's more a GD answer, but I'm surprised that so much posters respond"why should they?".

Obviously, the defendant incurs high costs. And not only monetary. In a recent high profile case here, defendants found not guilty had lost their job, their house, their spouse, had been jailed for a long time waiting for the trial, had been forbidden to see their children, etc... In other words, some had lost mostly everything in their life. It sure should deserve compensation. It's not like they did anything wrong, and we subjected them to this because we want a judicial system and want crimes to be prosecuted so that we'll live in a safer society. So, we all feel safer, and they foot the bill with a devastated life. They should definitely be indemnized, IMO, and plenty so.


As for the poster who stated : that having been found not guilty doesn't mean that the defendant was innocent : how should he be considered then? Possibly guilty? Suspect? He losing so much would be fine because he might nevertheless be guilty? I too could possibly be guilty, and so could be every other poster here. We aren't anymore "not guilty" than him. Still, he's the only one paying dearly. There's no reason you should "prove your innocence" in order to be compensated for an undeserved loss caused by the sytem that we all support and we all benefit from (as opposed to a loss caused by some random accident, for instance).
More generally, I strongly dislike the opposition between "not found guilty" and "innocent". That's what make "not guilty" people still considered as suspect for the rest of their life, causing even more havoc in their existence, like there hasn't been enough already.


The state, the people, might not be at fault but still we deprived someone from something for the common well-being. The state is still responsible even when there's no fault.
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  #7  
Old 05-07-2006, 04:08 PM
David Simmons David Simmons is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliffy
David, your argument assumes that to do something wrong the government has to act in bad faith. But that's not the only scheme we might have. There's a policy argument to be made that anytime the government hails someone into court on a case that it can't prove (demonstrated post hoc by the acquittal), that it's done something wrong. Certainly there are serious damages to the defendant in most instances, both the cash outlay for attorneys, loss of reputation, inability to tend to one's work when you have to concentrate on the trial, etc., etc., etc., and these all go unrecompensed.

I'm not sure I buy this argument, but you cannot pretend it doesn't exist.

--Cliffy
Yes, this argument can be made. However, I'm not at all sure that the remedy is to make the state financially liable.

Maybe prosecutors need to be more exacting about the evidence required before pursuing a case. It does seem to me that both the police and the prosecutors are more diligent in digging up evidence for their case than they are in paying attention to exculpatory evidence. Making the taxpayers pay extra for prosecutors failure doesn't really discipline the prosecutor.

Maybe they should be rated and their pay determined by subtacting acquittals from convictions or some such.
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  #8  
Old 05-07-2006, 04:20 PM
Tuckerfan Tuckerfan is offline
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You could, if during your trial it was proven that members of the prosecution fabricated evidence against you, file a civil suit against the government and get the money back that way.
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  #9  
Old 05-07-2006, 04:22 PM
casdave casdave is offline
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Not paying for denfense is presupposing a level of responsibility that the state cannot prove, even after the defense is successful.

If a person is not guilty, then why on earth should they suffer ?

It goes far deeper than that, because its also a threat to democracy.

Baseless accusations could be made against anyone with whom the state feel a certain discomfort, this could be anyone from a political opponent, or perhaps environmentalist who happens to get in the way of whoever some corporation that happens to have the ear of the president of the day.

Imagine that tricky Dicky had been able to level charges at journalists, any spurious charge, because they were getting too close for comfort ?

The taxpayer should pay, because the prosecutor is working on behalf of the taxpayer, its pretty damned obvious, the alternative is to somehow imply that because a proscutor has brought a case against an individual, there must be some guilt( no smoke without fire and all that stuff), if thats the case then why bother having the trial at all ?

Anyone at all could be prosecuted, but it does not mean they are guilty, we have a system for dealing with false accusations, and if we are going to make someone pay for a succesful defense, then the way must be open for that person to claim libel and defamation, and that would be easy to do, since the accusation was made and proven false.

Far more sensible to pay the costs of defense.
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  #10  
Old 05-07-2006, 04:56 PM
kunilou kunilou is online now
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There's no requirement that you have to pay a lawyer to defend you. You can plead poverty and ask for a public defender or simply waive your right to counsel and defend yourself.
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  #11  
Old 05-07-2006, 05:23 PM
Peter Morris Peter Morris is offline
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In my country, when someone is accused of a crime they get their legal fees paid by the state. Win or lose, guilty or not guilty, they don't have to pay. Damn right too.
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  #12  
Old 05-07-2006, 05:49 PM
Gfactor Gfactor is offline
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1. Acquittal means you are not guilty, which means that the the jury was not persuaded of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt (or the judge wasn't, either because it was a bench trial or because the judge directed a verdict of acquittal). That does not mean that the prosecution was frivolous or malicious.

2. That's pretty much what you'd have to show in order to get your fees back. Even then, you'd have to file a separate lawsuit for malicious prosecution.

The elements of a malicious prosecution case are usually something like this:

Quote:
First. The plaintiff must establish the existence of a criminal judicial proceeding against him/her. On this subject the (undisputed) facts are (state the nature of the criminal charge instituted against the plaintiff, the name of the judicial tribunal in which it was instituted, etc.)
Second. The plaintiff must establish that the defendant was responsible for or caused that proceeding to be instituted against him/her.
On this subject the (undisputed) facts are (state what the defendant did to initiate the criminal judicial proceeding against the plaintiff such as signing a complaint, etc.)
Third. The plaintiff must establish that the criminal proceeding terminated favorably to him/her or in a manner not adverse to him/her.
On this subject the (undisputed) facts are (state facts relating to the nature of the termination, such as a termination in his/her favor, a failure of

the grand jury to indict, a failure of the magistrate to find a prima facie case, a voluntary withdrawal or abandonment, etc.).
Fourth. The plaintiff must establish a lack of reasonable or probable cause for the criminal prosecution.
***
Fifth. The plaintiff must establish that the defendant was activated by a malicious motive in prosecuting the criminal complaint against him/her.
The malice contemplated by this element is not malice in the sense that the word is sometimes used. The kind of malice I speak of means the intentional doing of a wrongful or unlawful act without just cause or excuse. Such malice is an intentional act which an ordinarily cautious man would realize that under ordinary circumstances damage would result to one's person or property, and which does in fact damage another's person or property. The element of malice may be inferred from a lack of reasonable or probable cause.
Sixth. The last element that must be proved is that the plaintiff suffered damage, as I shall later define that term, as a proximate result of a malicious prosecution.
http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/civil/charges/312.htm; http://www.courts.michigan.gov/mcji/...orts-Ch117.htm

Prosecuting attorneys, judges, police officers, and the state itself are frequently immune from suit for malicious prosecution, so the complaining witness is often the sole defendant.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/96-792.ZC.html; http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bi...ase&no=962598p; http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bi...ase&no=995197A;but see, http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/91-7849.ZX.html and http://www.state.il.us/court/Opinion...ml/1001266.htm

3. Some jurisdictions have special rules permitting recovery of fees in some kinds of cases. http://www.enterprisenewspapers.com/...2251522546.cfm (discussing state that provides for recovery of fees by defendant acquitted on self-defense grounds).
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  #13  
Old 05-07-2006, 06:21 PM
Gfactor Gfactor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gfactor
3. Some jurisdictions have special rules permitting recovery of fees in some kinds of cases. http://www.enterprisenewspapers.com/...2251522546.cfm (discussing state that provides for recovery of fees by defendant acquitted on self-defense grounds).
A good article about Washington's self-defense law and its reimbursement provisions: http://www.theduifirm.com/CM/Articles/Articles35.asp
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  #14  
Old 05-07-2006, 06:24 PM
Gfactor Gfactor is offline
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And a case that makes clear that: Washington statutes "allow a fees
award in criminal cases only where the defendant acted in self-defense (RCW
9A.16.110; State v. Lee, 96 Wn. App. 336, 979 P.2d 458 (1999)), or where
the complaint against the defendant was frivolous or malicious. RCW
10.46.210; State v. Sizemore, 48 Wn. App. 835, 839, 741 P.2d 572 (1987)."
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/script...022maj&invol=3
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  #15  
Old 05-08-2006, 10:39 AM
Bippy the Beardless Bippy the Beardless is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kunilou
There's no requirement that you have to pay a lawyer to defend you. You can plead poverty and ask for a public defender or simply waive your right to counsel and defend yourself.
This, I think is the crux of the problem. If a defendant is completely innocent (ie had nothing to do with the alleged crime) then they aught to be completely secure in getting an aquittal should they chose a public defender or simply wave their defense.
A perfect judicial system could never find such a person guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Unfortunately the judicial system does not seem to work well enough for the defendant to go to trial without counsel.

Do you have to prove poverty in order to get a public defender?
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  #16  
Old 05-08-2006, 10:59 AM
Bricker Bricker is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bippy the Beardless
Do you have to prove poverty in order to get a public defender?
Yes.
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  #17  
Old 05-10-2006, 03:38 PM
Bongmaster Bongmaster is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kunilou
There's no requirement that you have to pay a lawyer to defend you. You can plead poverty and ask for a public defender or simply waive your right to counsel and defend yourself.
This is a silly argument. Of course you aren't required to spend your money to defend yourself but you'd be a fool not to. Public defenders aren't exactly known for their high level of competence. If I'm in court and charged with something I did not do I'd do everything I had to in order to clear my name. And if my life gets completely destroyed in the process (lost job, wife, kids, time etc) then yes, I think the state or government bringing the charges should compensate me. Not that they could make up for something like that but to be first wrongly accused and then suffer harsh penalties anyway is adding insult to injury.
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  #18  
Old 05-10-2006, 03:52 PM
Gfactor Gfactor is offline
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As Bricker so elegantly points out, you are probably overthinking your options. The choice is usually not between paying for a public defender or hiring private counsel, but between a public defender and representing yourself. This is because you have to show that you can't afford a lawyer in order to get court-appointed counsel.

Of course, sometimes you can get somebody whose finances aren't considered in the indigency analysis to hire a lawyer for you (relative, gf, employer). But other than that, the choice between private counsel and counsel provided by the state is not one you will get to make.
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