The Law Office of Robert D. Anderson, PLLCFormer Chief Prosecutor Of Loudoun County
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The criminal justice system disadvantages the poor

For any system of legal justice to work satisfactorily and endure for the long run, it must be fair and unbiased, and perhaps most importantly, it must inspire the faith and confidence of the people to whom it applies. This is especially true of the criminal justice system. Yet, as many Virginia residents who have run afoul of the law for any reason have discovered, there is an inherent imbalance that glaringly impacts one group of citizens. The poor, simply by the reality of their economic situation, are severely disadvantaged if they are accused of a crime.

As legal experts emphasize, the trouble for the poor begins when they stand as accused and not convicted of any crime. Bail has been required as a condition of release pending adjudication for many criminal cases since the formation of our Constitution. It is designed to ensure the individual does indeed show up for his or her day in court, but it is not to be excessive or punitive. However, depending on the economic plight of the accused, even a low bail amount may prove excessive, which can keep the person incarcerated until trial.

The result is often the loss of employment and a further worsening of money woes. If a conviction or plea deal does follow, there are almost certain to be fines and fees involved. Without a job, these often remain unpaid, which further exacerbates the situation, often resulting in the issuance of an arrest warrant. It's easy for a poor defendant to get caught in a never-ending cycle and never get out.

In many instances, the underlying case is a simple misdemeanor and not a serious felony. A person of more substantial means might be able to quickly address the matter and return to normal life but not so the defendant who is poor. A criminal defense lawyer may provide counsel and advice to those who stand accused of a crime.

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