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Jury clears Kennedy of drugged driving charge

The word "knowingly" is an important one, as the case of Kerry Kennedy serves to illustrate. As readers may have heard, Kennedy was acquitted today of impaired driving in connection with vehicle accident that occurred back in July 2013.

The accusation against the 54-year-old Kennedy clan scion was that she knowingly had taken a sleeping pill and then got behind the wheel of her SUV and drove as the drug began to take effect. The alleged result was the crash. Nobody was hurt. 

During a four-day trial in White Plains, prosecutors tried to make a case for Kennedy's guilt. But Kennedy herself testified that she had no idea that the pill she had taken that morning was a sleeping tablet. Rather, she said she thought it was her medication for a thyroid condition. She said she had no sense that she had become impaired.

The six-person jury found her not guilty of the charge Friday on its second day of full deliberations.

The verdict was greeted by applause by people in the gallery. Kennedy also expressed that she was "incredibly grateful" to the jury for its work and to the attorneys who defended her.

She also used the occasion to acknowledge that because of her social status she had access to attorneys of the highest caliber -- something that most individuals facing any sort of criminal charge don't enjoy. She also said her situation indicates a need for a "hard look at our criminal justice system in the United States."

Had Kennedy been convicted she could have faced up to one year of incarceration.

That consequence is something that anyone convicted of such a charge could be facing, which is why it is so imperative for defendants to have the benefit of experienced legal counsel. Everyone has the right to legal representation and should exercise that right.

Source: ABC News, "Kerry Kennedy 'Incredibly Grateful' for Not Guilty Verdict," Colleen Curry, Feb. 28, 2014

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