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Allegedly

Some portion of the freelance writing I have done has been for lawyers. One of the challenging details about legal-related writing is that you need to be very persnickety about some things for legal reasons -- as in there can be serious real world consequences if you don't write very carefully.

One of those details that you need to be picky about is that you cannot say "(Person) did X thing." You have to qualify everything and say things like "(Person) was charged with X thing" and "(Person) allegedly did X thing."

It has to be strictly factual and if you are an American lawyer, it has to respect American law, such as abiding by the assumption of innocent until proven guilty. And it doesn't matter how offensive you find the crime, if they haven't yet been found guilty in a court of law, you cannot write in a way that implicitly or explicitly suggests they are.

Even if they have been convicted, a best practice is to state that they were convicted and this is no doubt why we use terms like convict. Use of that word means you were found guilty in a court of law but allows for the possibility that maybe you were wrongly convicted and didn't actually do the thing that you were charged with, tried for and convicted of.

If you are a lawyer, you should be well aware of these standards and how strictly one must comply with them. Other people may think it's ridiculous or aggravating but doing otherwise is actually a potential lawsuit in the making for libeling someone.

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