The two best words for any criminal defense lawyer and any defendant – NOT GUILTY. Heard them again to day in the case of State vs. April Rice. Ms. Rice was charged with grand theft after she received a check from the County that belonged to the estate of another person. Eight months after it was deposited into an estate account she was handling, the County Treasurer concluded the money did not belong to her. They were right about that, but wrong about it being a crime. With no inventory of what the treasurer’s office had given her, there was no way to know how the check ended up in her possession. A jury heard the State’s case and concluded no crime had occurred – after only one hour of deliberation.
That may all sound easy enough, but it was actually pretty complex. There were over 60,000 documents produced in discovery, and two judges heard the preliminary hearings. Instead of trying to put April in prison, prosecutors could have easily gotten the money back, and she would not have had to pay a lawyer to defend her. Still, I am happy that she is free today, as she should be. My take-away? The jury system still works much of the time. But if you are charged with a crime, get the best lawyer you can afford. The state had multiple lawyers, and investigators, and experts and probably spent many times over that $31,000! Now on to the next case.