Being arrested and charged with a crime already puts you in enough legal jeopardy. There are things that you can do that can actually make your own legal situation worse. Nearly all of these mistakes are made by people who do not have an experienced criminal defense attorney. The longer you go without legal representation, the more likely you are to make an error that can handicap your criminal defense. What follows are common mistakes that defendants make that may increase the chances of being convicted or can lead to stiffer penalties when they are sentenced. You should retain counsel immediately to avoid making them.
Speaking to Law Enforcement (Especially Without an Attorney Present)
Some people may think that they can just give their side of the story to law enforcement and talk their way out of trouble. Talking is perhaps the worst thing that you can do after you have been arrested. Once the police have read you your Miranda Rights, they can use anything that you say against you in court. Many cases are made with evidence that defendants willingly gave up to law enforcement after their arrest.
There is nothing that says that you have to talk to the police after you have been arrested. In fact, you should not speak with law enforcement after you have been charged. Under no circumstances should you have any conversation without an attorney present. If law enforcement does try to ask you questions, tell them that you have the right to an attorney and politely refuse to answer.
Assuming That You Have No Chance of Winning Your Case
It may feel like the entire law enforcement system is arrayed against you in a criminal case. There is no doubt that the prosecutor has tremendous resources at their disposal, but they are the ones who have the burden of proof in your case. They must prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Just because you have been charged with a crime does not mean that you will be convicted of it.
You do not have to automatically plead guilty to the charges or sit back and let the prosecutor prove them. You always have the option to fight the charges against you. Hiring an experienced criminal law attorney puts you in a better position to understand any potential weakness in the prosecutor’s case.
Not guilty does not just mean that you did not do the act of which you are accused. Law enforcement can have also violated your rights, such as by conducting an illegal search or seizure. If that is the case, your lawyer can file a motion to suppress evidence that was illegally seized, complicating the prosecutor’s case against you.
Trying to Handle Your Case on Your Own
While you have legal rights given to you by the United States Constitution, you are often in a position of having to fight to defend them. On your own, you may not even know when law enforcement has overreached and violated your rights. Even if you had a suspicion that something was wrong, you might not know exactly what to do about it.
One of the key moments in a criminal case is when you speak with an attorney and understand what you are facing. The news may not be what you want to hear, but it gives you the starting point for your legal defense. An experienced attorney can quickly analyze your legal situation and investigate your case.
Without an experienced criminal defense lawyer, you will be likely to make mistakes in your own defense. Although there is no legal requirement that you have a lawyer, you are certainly much better off when you do hire one. Your future and your freedom are areas in which you should invest.
No matter what you do after an arrest, never admit guilt. Once you confess, what you say can be used against you in the future. If you ultimately decide to fight the charges against you, your admission earlier in the case may undercut your later criminal defense.
Some defendants may not have an attorney in place at the time of the arraignment, which is when you will enter a plea to the charges against you. If you plead guilty here, the next step in your case is sentencing. You will lose the chance to try to gather evidence and exploit any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against you. The way to avoid this mistake is to hire an attorney as soon as you have been arrested and have them accompany you to the arraignment. If there is no lawyer with you, the automatic plea at the arraignment should be not guilty. Let your lawyer handle the case once you have hired them to represent you.
Trying to Avoid the Legal Process
You must participate in court at all phases of the legal process. Hopefully, the court will have set bail in your case shortly after your arrest. If you do not show up for court dates, the court may revoke bail, and you can be committed to custody. While you are not obligated to testify or incriminate yourself in the case, you are obligated to show up when there is a hearing. Resisting arrest or attempting to flee will increase the chances that bail will either not be granted or revoked. It is a crime to both use a motor vehicle to evade an officer and to escape from custody.
Contact an Appleton Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a crime or are being investigated for one, you cannot afford to be without legal counsel. The attorneys at the law firm of Hogan Eickhoff are available to you at all times to discuss your case. We will immediately get to work to learn the facts of your case and plot your best legal defense strategy. To schedule your free initial consultation, call today at (920) 450-9800 or send us a message online.