The Rule of Lenity is a legal principle that many people may not know of, however, it can play a critical role in how our courts interpret the law. In the United States, it is the job of the legislature to create laws and the job of the courts to interpret them. While the language of a statute can be straightforward in its application, it is sometimes unclear how a law should apply and thus a degree of interpretation is needed. The process by which a judge determines what a law means and how it applies to a specific case is known as statutory construction. The Rule of Lenity states that during statutory construction if ambiguity exists in how a law applies to a particular case, the court must interpret the statute in favor of a defendant.
Recently, and in a move that helps to reinforce a defendant’s rights, Texas has written the Rule of Lenity into law. At its core, the rule protects a defendant by preventing a court from using ambiguities in a law to deal out harsh or unfair penalties. While this principle is nothing new, U.S. courts have an inconsistent history of applying the rule. In past decisions where statutory ambiguity existed, judges instead chose to rely on other methods of interpretation to decide on a case. However, this new law transforms lenity from a guideline to a mandate. Texas joins other states such as Ohio and Florida in codifying the Rule of Lenity into law.
Fort Worth Criminal Defense Lawyer
The recent Texas legislation on the Rule of Lenity highlights the complexity of the legal system in the United States. If you have been charged with a crime, it is vital to secure knowledgeable legal representation from the Law Office of Samuel R. Terry. Fort Worth Criminal Defense Lawyer Samuel Terry handles every case personally and can work with you to help you understand your legal options. When you are in need of only the best defense, do not hesitate to contact the firm and schedule a free case evaluation.
Call (817) 756-1817 and speak to an attorney about your case today.