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Criminals Versus Criminal Acts

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Criminals Versus Criminal Acts 

Does breaking a law make you a criminal? Sometimes the answer may seem easy. A bank robber with a history of violence and felony convictions for robbing banks, probably could be called a “criminal.” What about a person who is cited for a speeding ticket? Traffic violations are criminal violations, but we would be hard pressed to say that a speeding ticket makes someone a criminal. What about someone who just makes a mistake? A person who commits a DUI or DWI? A person that who possesses drugs? A criminal or someone who committed a criminal act? 

Bad people doing bad things are easier to brand with the distinction of being a criminal, but it gets more complicated when you consider the fact that individuals, particularly those who are otherwise law abiding citizens, sometimes make mistakes. Sometimes individuals become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Sometimes people just mess up. We know that people aren’t perfect. 

I have always hated the title, “criminal defense attorney”, not because I am ashamed of what I do for a living. Instead, because people often confuse it with meaning that everyone who violates the law is in fact  a “criminal.” This is just not true. Often, our job as criminal defense attorneys is to help change the optics on what someone looks like. We change the landscape and narrative to show that the person accused of a crime is defined by more than the criminal act. We present mitigation. We show positive change. We show that the person standing before the justice system is someone that we as a society don’t have to worry about. 

Sadly, most people don’t see the distinction between “criminals” and “a person who commits a criminal act” until it affects them or a loved one. Then the distinction becomes very relevant and understandable. Then the distinction becomes very personal. Would you want to be defined by your worst day? Probably not. My job is to try to show that someone’s mistake is an irregularity and, while maybe not justified, at least understandable. 

I urge you to think more about the distinction between criminals and persons who commit criminal acts. They aren’t always the same. 

If we can help you, please don’t contact us. For more information, go to We are ready to help you through the process of the criminal justice system. 

Franz Borghardt