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Unconscious bias is a real factor in criminal cases

On Behalf of | Mar 6, 2019 | Civil Rights |

America is supposed to be the land of justice and equality, where everyone receives the same treatment under consistent interpretation of the law. Unfortunately, that ideal is not realistic simply due to the nature of humans.

People like to think that they are fair and reasonable, and even if their intentions are good, they may not realize they still operate under unconscious bias. Research shows that this implicit prejudice has a real impact on your case, reports the Washington Post.

How stereotypes hurt your case

If you have certain traits that society deems undesirable, then those involved in your case, from judges to jurors, may automatically perceive you in a negative light. This unintentional, automatic attitude against you often affects the outcome of your case.

Examples of influential qualities are how dark your skin is, how much you weigh and how attractive you are. Unconscious bias not only affects you but also your witnesses, whom others may assume are less trustworthy if they seem to fit specific stereotypes.

Other factors that can lead to injustice

The bad news is that even if you escape prejudice, you may experience other injustices. Research has also revealed that seemingly unimportant factors such as the time of day you are in the courtroom can even influence decision-making.

Likewise, the way trials go can be unfair to defendants. Jurors take into account the body language of those on the stand as well as the mannerisms of the prosecuting attorney. When the prosecution brings up something not permissible and the judge upholds an objection to it, that does not mean the jurors ignore it. Unintentionally, that information can alter their judgment even if they are not supposed to consider it.

Eyewitnesses come with a significant rate of inaccuracy, especially when dealing with bias, yet people still put a lot of faith in their word. With so many ways your case can go south, it is vital to have a strong legal defense to counter these obstacles and protect your rights.

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Facing: 365 days in jail, loss of legal residence
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Facing: 365 days in jail, loss of legal residence
Result: All charges but battery dropped, one year expungeable supervision
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Facing: 30 years in prison at 85%
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Facing: 30 years in prison at 85%
Result: Post-conviction petition granted
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