In New York and throughout the country, any time a person is arrested and charged with a number of crimes, the initial plea and subsequent criminal defense can be crucial to ensure that the defendant receives fair treatment under the law. The recent DWI and gun charges filed against a fourth grade teacher from Suffolk County illustrate the importance of having a strong criminal defense in protecting one’s freedom.

The teacher recently pleaded not guilty to 11 allegations. The charges range from criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, which is an “armed violent felony,” to operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile phone. The seriousness of the allegations ranges drastically from felonies to misdemeanors.

The criminal charges stem from an incident that occurred in April. Police claim the man was in possession of a gun and that he was driving drunk on a suspended license. Clearly, authorities decided to “throw the book” at this man, as the wide range of allegations illustrates. According to an official with the school district where he was employed, the teacher has been “administratively reassigned to his home” following his arrest.

His plea of not guilty will force the prosecution to take on the burden of proof on each and every one of the charges. A conviction cannot be obtained unless prosecutors have evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

While the teacher has been charged with a long list of crimes, the prosecution still has to find evidence to prove every single one of the charges. For many people, the phrase “innocent until proven guilty” may be a mere phrase, but not so: it is a reality that prosecutors must be made to confront.

Source: Riverhead Patch, “Riverhead teacher pleads not guilty to gun, DWI charges,” Lisa Finn, May 18, 2012