Blog Post

JUST GOOD PEOPLE MAKING MISTAKES

In the more than 40 years I have been practicing criminal law I have learned many things. One of them is that there are more good people charged with committing a crime than there are bad people.

That does not mean that the people charged are not guilty of what they are accused of. What I mean by that is most of the people I have represented on criminal cases are good people who have just done something wrong.

Oh, there are plenty of people who are “bad” who have been in my office. But they are the exception. The rest of my clients are everyday people who have violated the law, but that doesn’t make them bad.

Alcohol related offenses are a perfect example. People violate that law all the time. Most of them don’t do it intentionally. In fact, most of the time it is done unknowingly. Very few people decide that they are going to get drunk and go out and operate a motor vehicle.

Because we do not really educate people about alcohol use, many people do not really grasp the concept of just how little it takes to be above the legal limit. That doesn’t make them bad people. They made a mistake.

I’ll go a step further and say that most drug users are not bad people. They are people who are influenced by the wrong things. They are people who might lack the backbone to say no to a friend. They might be irresponsible people. But they are not bad people.

When I was in undergraduate school we all drank under age. Was it illegal? Yes. Did we do it anyway? Yes. Did it make us bad people? I don’t think so. But, just the same, we were breaking the law.

It would be a much better place if people were not so judgmental about others. I can’t tell you how many times some “law and order” type has ended up in my office suddenly complaining about how their son or daughter has been mistreated by the law. These are the same people who, before that, were looking down their noses at people charged with crimes.