Last night, I was able to secure a jury trial acquittal for one of my clients charged with Making a Lewd or Indecent Proposal to a Child Under 16. The Jury came back with a not guilty verdict in thirty minutes.
The trial was only two days long, but that is mostly due to the pace myself and the prosecution pressed. Some cases are based on a plea to the facts, and some cases are instead focused on appeals to common sense. This one fell into the latter category. Consequently, each side knew the verdict would rely more on the opinions of the jury members and less on the amount of evidence available.
To the uninitiated, jury trials seem exciting, fun, and incredibly interesting. However, those who have lived through a jury trial as either a party or possibly an advocate know how draining the entire ordeal can be. There are bits of excitement and fun, for sure, but the amount of focus required is tiresome. It is an intense setting that tests the wits of the attorneys, the judge, and most importantly the jury. Hard decisions have to be made.
Everyone involved in the process has to go with their gut to a certain extent, and that can pose problems as well as potential possibilities. It is a high-stress situation where everyone knows that barring some rare circumstance, there are no mulligans.
This case revolved around allegations that my client propositioned a twelve-year-old boy in a remote area of Oklahoma City. Luckily, I was able to show the jury the environmental factors that effected what was actually said and what was actually heard.
Whenever you face criminal charges based simply on words, it becomes a literal "he-said-she-said" battle. The jury usually doesn't have much to wiegh outside the testimony of the alleged victim and the defendant. In this case, the prosecution presented 911 calls and surveillance footage regarding the allegations. Regardless, it simply wasn't enough to overcome the substantial hurdle of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
The prosecution presented testimony from eight witnesses, ranging from bystanders who allegedly saw my client in proximity of the twelve-year-old, to people who spoke with the alleged victim about the allegations, and law enforcement officers who investigated the case. Our defense revolved solely around my client taking the stand and explaining what actually happened. In a nutshell, the jury had to find either my client's or the alleged victim's version more believable.
My client faced a minimum of three years to twenty years in prison. If he had been convicted and incarcerated in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, he would have been required to serve 85% of his sentence before he became eligible for parole or "good time" earned credits to possibly lower the amount of time he would serve. Moreover, a conviction would have resulted in a deprivation of his civic rights along with sex-offender registration requirements.
But my client was brave. He had the fortitude to challenge the system...to demand that the State of Oklahoma prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt...and he won. He walked out of court with his head held high, knowing for the first time since these allegations were levied against him that he was now truly a free man.