This guest post comes to us from The Cibula Law Firm in Redding, California.
There are numerous crime shows on TV these days but not all of them portray the law very accurately which leads to a lot of misconceptions among the general public. Criminal law is complex and difficult enough to understand without all the added misrepresentation you may see and hear. If you ever find yourself or a loved one in a situation that involves criminal charges, it’s important to know the difference between what’s true and what’s false.
Myth #1: If My Rights Aren’t Read, There Can’t Be a Case Formed Against Me
Most of us are familiar with the Miranda Rights that are recited when someone is taken into police custody. While we should expect those rights to be upheld as citizens, it is completely wrong to presume that your case will be thrown out if you didn’t receive your Miranda warning when you thought you should. This is because it only has to be read after you’ve been arrested, not if the police are simply making inquiries into what you may know about the crime. It’s important to note that if you reveal anything that is related to the case before actually being arrested, it may be used against you at a later time if arrested. It’s probable that if there were ever a discrepancy about Miranda Rights, the court would not dismiss the case altogether, but just suppress any statements made before the proper warning was given.
Myth #2: It’s Best if I Just Answer All the Questions the Police Have For Me
Many are confused as to how much they are obligated to disclose when being interrogated or once they’ve been officially arrested. While it’s a good idea to cooperate with police to a certain extent, that doesn’t mean that you want to start answering questions and divulging information that could significantly hurt your case in the long run. Contrary to popular belief, a person isn’t required to tell the police anything, which is where the right to remain silent comes into play. Whether someone is guilty or innocent, it’s always best to get the counsel of a lawyer and have one present before talking to officers.
Myth #3: An Alibi is a Solid Defense
This is one of the biggest myths in criminal law. People make the mistake of thinking that just because they have an alibi for the crime in question they can’t possibly be found guilty. However, the truth is that a defendant shouldn’t rely solely on an alibi defense to get them a not guilty verdict, even when it’s absolutely valid. A jury is more likely to consider evidence and testimonies from witnesses and experts than the alibi of a friend or family member, so it’s generally better to put your efforts into another defense that will make it harder for the prosecuting attorney to prove their side of the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Myth #4: Police Have to Have a Warrant to Conduct a Search
If all you know of criminal cases is what you’ve seen on TV, there’s a good chance you assume that police must have a warrant in order to legally conduct a search on your premises. In reality, there are a few varying circumstances where a warrant may not be necessary including when consent is given by the owner of the property, when an arrest is being made, when a search is deemed essential for the safety of the public, when a suspect is fleeing the scene of a crime and when it concerns the preservation of evidence.
Myth #5: If I Plead Guilty, I Don’t Need a Lawyer
Pleading guilty does not mean that you aren’t in need of an experienced criminal lawyer. Even if you don’t plan to go to trial, the knowledge and negotiation skills of an attorney are invaluable when it comes to getting charges and sentences reduced. In addition, a lawyer will be able to assess the situation and plea bargain being presented to determine if pleading guilty is really in your best interest.
If you’ve never had a run-in with the law, it’s likely that you’ve been believing a lot of false information. Arming yourself with the truth is the first step in getting through a criminal law case successfully.