Overheard – You're Innocent Until Proven Guilty


Lawyers are in court a lot. We get to hear many funny and odd comments. Here’s one of my latest ones from the Fredericksburg General District Court: “You’re innocent until proven guilty.”

The funny thing is that someone said this in civil court.

A debtor had shown up for court and was found guilty because she admitted that she owed the debt. Then I overheard someone else tell her: “but you’re innocent until proven guilty!”

That’s a true statement, but it’s a bit off. In the American legal system, criminal defendants are innocent until proven guilty. A similar concept applies in civil cases: the plaintiff must prove his case against the defendant. But civil defendants are not found “guilty” or “innocent.” The plaintiff either wins a judgment or not. That’s it.

The other important point is that this particular defendant admitted the debt. If you are sued and you admit that the plaintiff’s case is correct, the case is over. Done. Judgment is entered against you.

The moral of this story is this: if you don’t owe a debt, don’t admit it. If you’re in doubt about whether or not you have a defense, talk to a lawyer.

Andrew Flusche

My name is Andrew Flusche. I am a traffic and misdemeanor defense lawyer in Virginia. I limit my practice to traffic tickets and misdemeanor defense, so I know the ins and outs of these offenses. I literally wrote the book on reckless driving in Virginia which you can get on Amazon here or download for free here. I opened my practice in 2008 after earning my Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Since then, I have earned over 600 5-star reviews from happy clients on Google, Yelp, and Facebook. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor offense in Virginia, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Your initial consultation is always free, and you'll talk directly with me about the details of your case.

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