What Are The Top Misconceptions About Being Arrested For A Crime?
There are a lot of misconceptions! People are often confused about the difference between the charges that the police arrested them for and the charges that eventually get filed by the prosecuting agency. First, the police are submitting charges, they are suggesting charges to the prosecutor based on what they believe happened. Then, a prosecutor reviews all of the evidence and decides what they can prove happened. Sometimes, between the police’s submittal of charges and the prosecutor’s filing of charges, charges can get dropped or added! People are often dealing with uncertainty as to what charges they are actually going to be facing.
Another misconception involves people, at the beginning of a case, who are wondering, “Do I have a good defense based on what I am telling you? Can the prosecution prove their case?” If I am meeting a client right after they have been arrested, or right after they have been charged, there is often very little information available to me. At that point in the process, I do not have access to police reports, to evidence in the case. When I conduct an initial consultation with a client, I am providing them with a general overview of the possible defenses in their case without being able to say more specifically what can be done in their case until more information is available. So much of that early process is frustrating for a client because there are more questions than answers.
Common Ways In Which People Unintentionally Incriminate Themselves
This is a constant frustration for defense attorneys because the public in general is just not properly educated about what their rights are when interacting with the police. Knowing your rights and being able to exercise your rights are two very different things. My advice to anyone who is the subject of a police investigations is to retain counsel. If you are going to talk to the police, if you are going to talk to the media, if you are in a situation like that, you need to retain counsel because you have the ability to do more harm than good in your case without someone there to help exercise your rights!
People who talk with the police often want to explain themselves. They want to explain why the police’s perception of what happened is wrong. They want to give their side of the story, and any time people start giving an explanation to police, those statements can be used against them. One of the things that people just do not understand is that the police are trained to get information out of people in a very specific way. People think that by explaining themselves they are going to clear everything up; however, more often than not, they are just making their lives even more difficult.
People think that if they are cooperative with the police that there is a chance they will not be arrested or charged with a crime. Police, above all else, are here to protect and serve the community, so if they feel like something you said has given them a reason to arrest you, then that is exactly what is going to happen. I tell people if the police want to talk to you about anything other than to say, “Who are you?” or “How are you doing today?” then they should tell the police that they would feel better talking with an attorney present. Exercise your right to remain silent because it is a chore to work out from under statements that are made to the police even when what’s said is the truth!
Once statements are documented by the police in a certain way, it is hard to provide context or an explanation of what was meant by those statements at a later date. Once a case has been charged, once you have an attorney, the worst thing you can do is talk to the police or a prosecutor without your attorney because their interests are completely adverse to yours. Anything you say to those people at that time is going to be used against you. The most important thing to remember is that people feel compelled to explain themselves, to tell their side of the story; but that is really hard to do when the people interviewing you are already looking at you as a suspect.
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