Patrick O'Keefe transparent portrait

You Don’t Have to Prove Your Innocence

Man with his hands up in the air, with question expression on his face

The “presumption of innocence” is a legal theory that was created hundreds of years ago to ensure the rights of the criminally accused are protected. So why is it that people still think they have to “prove” their innocence? I have handled hundreds of jury trials, where one of the first instructions which the judge gives to the jury is the definition of the “presumption of innocence.” This is followed by the advisement that the jury MUST find the defendant NOT GUILTY unless they are satisfied that the Prosecution has proven the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, not the defendant proving his/her own innocence.

Usually, a defendant in a criminal trial has a crucial decision to make with their attorney: do I testify in my defense? Countless times, I have seen defendants snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by taking the stand in his/her own defense. As a rule, I would say this: if you are truly, unequivocally, 100% innocent, take the stand. If you are not truly, unequivocally, 100% innocent, do not testify. Why would you when you are not required to? Why would you testify if you are guilty? Jurors are not foolish. If they think you are lying to them, they will convict you. It’s that simple. An experienced criminal defense attorney can do his part to ensure that your constitutional right to remain silent is not held against you by a judge or jury.

The secret to an effective criminal defense attorney is their ability to convince a judge or jury that the trial is not so much a question of guilt or innocence, but forcing the prosecution to prove each element of their case beyond a reasonable doubt. When viewed within the proper framework, an effective defense lawyer can convince a jury to find his client not guilty, even if the jury does not think the client is innocent.

In conclusion, those who are accused of criminal offenses should have an honest, frank discussion with their attorney during their first meeting, and start having meaningful discussions with the attorney about their trial strategy and the decision to testify or not testify. The presumption of innocence and the 5th Amendment right to remain silent in one’s defense is the best weapon a criminal defendant has in his/her arsenal.

Recent Posts

Patrick O’Keefe Quoted in NY Times, Alex Murdaugh Trial Article Alex Murdaugh trial legal experts

Lawyers say Alex Murdaugh taking the witness stand is a risky but calculated move. Feb. 24, 2023 Jesus Jiménez In most cases, legal experts believe it is risky for a criminal defendant to take the witness stand. But lawyers said that as evidence and testimony mounted against Alex Murdaugh, he likely felt that taking the […]

Read More
How to Get a Criminal Case Dismissed: The Facts gavel in court with justice scales federal charges practice area support image

Trials are not inevitable when you’ve been charged with a crime. In fact, more than 97% of state and federal criminal cases will never make it to trial. Many are resolved with plea deals before the case heads to court. About 8% will be dismissed by prosecutors. Undoubtedly, the dismissal of a case is an […]

Read More
Guide to Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer Attorney Patrick O

You may be facing criminal charges, or you might be seeking justice for yourself or a loved one. Either way, it’s critical to find the right criminal defense attorney to handle your case. We know this is a difficult decision—that’s why we’ve put together this detailed guide on hiring a criminal defense lawyer.  If getting […]

Read More
Attorney Patrick William O’Keefe Achieves Recertification In Criminal Trial Law National Board of Trial Advocacy Badge

ATTORNEY PATRICK WILLIAM O’KEEFE ACHIEVES RECERTIFICATION IN CRIMINAL TRIAL LAW WITH THE NATIONAL BOARD OF TRIAL ADVOCACY LANSING, MI -The National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) is pleased to announce that Patrick William O’Keefe of the law firm O’Keefe Law, PLLC, has successfully achieved recertification as a criminal trial advocate.  The NBTA was formed out […]

Read More
Six Problems with the Prosecution of Child Sexual Abuse Cases in Michigan Child holding up here hand in the "stop motion" for blog featured image

As a board-certified criminal trial attorney, I have been asked the following question: “How can the government prosecute me for child sexual assault when they have no evidence of my guilt?”

Read More

Email Us

Fill out the form and send it & we will quickly reach back out to you with answers.

© Copyright 2022 | O'Keefe Law | All Rights Reserved
Calling our firm does not immediately establish an attorney/client relationship. O'Keefe Law is a high-demand firm & accepts clients very selectively.
7804 Francis Ct.
Suite 110
Lansing, MI 48917
Google Reviews Link
Powered By:
Epic Web Results text logo
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram