Patrick T. McNallyAttorney at Law

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A criminal defendant's silence should not create an inference

Although a court has the inherent power to instruct a jury to disregard an improper statement made by a prosecutor, can the damage in a criminal trial really be undone?

Our Nashville criminal defense law firm understands the importance of seeking a mistrial or an appeal, where appropriate. In fact, we have successfully obtained a reversal of a conviction in one instance where the prosecutor made an unconstitutional statement regarding the defendant’s silence.

The United States Constitution provides a criminal defendant with the right against self-incrimination, and utilizing this right at trial should not result in any adverse inferences. Indeed, an accused should be presumed innocent until found guilty. Furthermore, it is the prosecutor’s burden to prove guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, not the other way around. Finally, the prosecution should not be able to offer into the record any tainted evidence.

In addition to procedural rights, there may also be strategic considerations for a defendant to consider. In another case, for example, we counseled a client on whether to accept a plea deal in consideration of the litigation risks. A plea generally involves an offer from the prosecution for a lighter sentence or reduced charges, contingent upon the accused entering a guilty plea. If a court considers all of the factors pertinent to sentencing, including any mitigating factors, a plea may be in an defendant’s best interests.

Our Nashville criminal defense law firm has a demonstrated record in fighting for the rights of the accused. Our peers have recognized us for our outstanding legal advocacy, and our previous cases also speak to that high level of professionalism. To learn more about our firm’s criminal defense and appeals practice, check out our website.

Source: The Tennessean, “Nashville-area men face prison for illegal gun part exports,” Stacey Barchenger, Aug. 22, 2016

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Patrick T. McNally, Attorney at Law
424 Church Street
# 2260
Nashville, TN 37219

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