Playing With / Convicted by Public Opinion

Basic Trope: In a high-profile case, a suspect is presumed by the public at large to be guilty, even though guilt has not been proven yet.
  • Straight: Alice is found raped and murdered in a ditch on the side of the road. Bob is a suspect in the high-profile case, and everyone already thinks Bob is guilty as soon as the word gets out that police have made an arrest.
  • Exaggerated:
    • The case hasn't even gone to trial yet; heck, Bob hasn't actually even been arrested or charged with anything, only questioned!
    • The case has gone to trial, and Bob is found not guilty after video evidence of someone else committing the crime is presented. Everyone still thinks Bob did it.
  • Downplayed: The general public considers Bob to be a very likely suspect, but there's a couple of other people who also could have done it so opinion is divided.
  • Justified:
  • Inverted: It is shown that Bob is beyond-a-reasonable-doubt guilty, and yet no one thinks Bob could or would actually do such a thing.
  • Subverted: DNA evidence shows that Bob is, indeed, guilty.
  • Double Subverted: Bob's family or significant other refuses to believe that it was him, regardless.
  • Parodied: Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life.
  • Zig Zagged: Many people think Bob is guilty the moment he's announced as a suspect, but others are convinced Dave had a much better motive, and as each new revelation comes out, public opinion sways from one suspect to another By the time the trial is over, half the people rolled believe that the wrong man was convicted, despited the evidence.
  • Averted:
    • The public does not rush to judgment as they watch the details of the case unfold.
    • Bob is not accused of any crime.
  • Enforced: Truth in Television.
  • Lampshaded: "Bob's on the news! He did it!"
  • Invoked: Bob is taken in for questioning about the case, because he was seen with Alice at a party two days before she was killed.
  • Exploited: The real killer starts Malicious Slander of Bob so the public will be howling for his blood, and the police's attention will be distracted from tracking the killer.
  • Defied: News reporters are not given details; it is not released to the public that Bob was questioned.
  • Discussed: "Bob, how does it feel to know that the entirety of Troperville is convinced you're a murderer?"
  • Conversed: "The Troperville residents on this show sure were quick to decide that Bob was guilty. I'm pretty sure it'll turn out he's innocent."
  • Deconstructed: This can ruin Bob's life (as the public harasses him...or worse, tries to carry out vigilante justice), and may lead to bias in the courtroom.
  • Reconstructed: Coverage of the case is limited, not naming the suspect(s) until the suspect(s) is/are proven guilty.
  • Played For Laughs:
  • Played For Drama: Bob is Driven to Suicide because of this—and then it's revealed that he didn't do it, leading to a mass Heel Realization by everyone who condemned him.
  • Plotted a Good Waste: The prosecuting attorney is found to have falsified evidence to get Bob convicted. When confronted, he states that honestly, he stopped caring about guilt and innocence a long time ago. He claims that the facts don't matter: ultimately, the public thirsts to see 'justice' done, and a not guilty verdict wouldn't make a difference. If anything, it'll just make things worse. Considering Bob's been declared guilty in the court of public opinion and nothing will change their mind, he might as well give them what they want. Otherwise, there will just be Vigilante Justice and Bob will be just as screwed. The judge throws the book at him.

Back to Convicted by Public Opinion, but you'd better leave by the side door—they don't seem to like you.