Many Louisiana residents are familiar with the basic principle that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. These are not empty words, as the government has a high burden of proof in criminal trials to prove a person committed a criminal act beyond a reasonable doubt.
The government's burden of proof is high for good reason, as an innocent person should not be convicted of a crime he or she did not commit. This is particularly true when it comes to allegations of white collar crime, which can involve complicated facts at issue. Such is the case, then, for a recent case involving an executive of a multi-national corporation involved in a major environmental disaster.
When the government fails to satisfy its high burden of proof and eliminate all reasonable doubt, the jury must acquit the defendant of the charges. For instance, a former executive for BP was recently found not guilty of making false statements during a federal investigation. The executive's statements involved the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, as investigators claimed the man manipulated data about the amount of oil that was at issue. The jury acquitted the man on the charge, and the judge even agreed afterward with the verdict reached by the jury.
The case illustrates how criminal charges are not proof of guilt. Accordingly, when the government makes serious allegations involving white collar crime, the individual charged needs to be prepared to vigorously defend him or herself and hold the government to its high burden of proof.
Source: Shreveport Times, "Ex-BP exec David Rainey not guilty of lying in oil spill," Kevin McGill, June 5, 2015