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Defense options when you have already been "labeled" by the media

For those Florida residents who remember the times of getting the majority of their news from the Sunday paper, it can be a shock to see the amount of "news" reports that are available these days. We are living in a time of instant reaction, and oftentimes the news reports we see may seem slanted or biased to some people. However, this type of "labeling" has been the default-mode for years for reports of criminal arrests.

Take, for instance, the recent arrest of a woman in Florida for child neglect. The reports indicate that the woman, who is the mother of a six-year-old boy, was arrested after her young son was found by himself on the night of Halloween trick-or-treating alone. The report about this arrest is completely one-sided, including statements from witnesses and parents of other trick-or-treaters who found the young boy. There are no reports of statements from the woman who was arrested as to why her son was by himself when he was found.

The report makes the perception of one side plain: that the woman is a bad mother. However, there may be more to this story than the media reports are covering. More details are sure to be revealed as law enforcement officials develop the case and prosecutors set court dates but, unfortunately, even if this case is dismissed or the charges are reduced, those reports will likely not find their way in front of Florida residents. Thus, this woman has been "labeled" for life, it seems.

Arrestees oftentimes find themselves fighting not only the charges they face, but the perception of themselves in the community. That perception is often shaped by initial media reports. Florida residents who find themselves in these types of situations will need to start planning their criminal defense as soon as possible after the arrest.

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