A little over a year ago, the News -- Eagle published my letter headlined "Allegation only means something illegal may have occurred." In it I listed some points of interest I wished I had known before I was served with a search warrant by local law enforcement. Every charge against me has been dismissed by the DA in the "best interests of justice," but not before an exorbitant amount of money was spent on legal fees and procurement of bond. None of these expenses were recoverable.

Unfortunately, innocence is based upon the ability (both financial and educational) to employ counsel willing to expend the time and considerable resources required to prove innocence. Contrary to my previous beliefs, you are in fact guilty until you prove your innocence. Law enforcement had the right, indeed the responsibility, to arrest anyone upon the slightest hint of guilt. Thereafter, it is the accused person's responsibility to prove his or her innocence. Should all charges be dropped, law enforcement is allowed to turn its back upon any costs or damages incurred by the accused.

Perhaps the most important lesson derived from this ordeal is I learned all personal information will be deemed "public record" by the DA, regardless of privacy issues. This would include your social security number, birth date, full name and current address. Strangely, even convicted felons are afforded some semblance of protection against identity theft. However, upon arrest in the county, you forfeit any right to privacy regardless of your guilt/innocence. Upon further investigation, it appears that only the counties making this standard operating policy are the ones presided over by our DA. And don't assume this will be remedied upon dismissal of charges. No, it is still considered "public record."

Leslie Brown, Enid



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