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Jury acquits man of fraud-related charges

There are few things more serious in a person's life than facing allegations of criminal wrongdoing. Criminal charges can not only put a person in jail for years, but they can also damage a person's reputation and affect nearly every aspect of his or her personal life.

Accordingly, given the importance of criminal charges, it is vital that individuals take every step they can to defend themselves from allegations of wrongdoing. This includes challenging the government's allegations and taking the case to trial, when necessary, to hold the government to its high burden of proof in criminal cases.

Where the government cannot prove every element of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt, the charges must fail, and the accused must be held not guilty. For instance, one man was recently acquitted on fraud-related charges that he used false documents to steal union funds. The man, a union president, was alleged to have used union money to pay for his personal travel expenses to St. Louis and other places. The jury concluded the government failed its burden of proof, however, as it found the man not guilty of the charges.

The case is an example of the power of the jury system. Prosecutors have a great deal of discretion when deciding whether to bring charges against a person. Those charges are simply allegations, however, and a jury is the decider of whether the charges have any merit. If the government cannot satisfy its high burden of proving each element beyond a reasonable doubt, the charges will be dismissed, and the individual can return to his or her personal life. Thus, it is imperative for those accused of criminal wrongdoing to put forth an aggressive criminal defense.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Jury finds Broward union leader not guilty of fraud," Mike Clary and Paula McMahon, July 24, 2014

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