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5 Biggest Mistakes Criminal Defendants Make and How You Can Avoid Them

The Law Firm of Andrea M. Kolski

Are you worried you might mess up if you get arrested?

Being accused of a crime is never a good experience. But when charged with a crime, criminal defendants can make mistakes that make the process harder and longer.

Read on for these 5 mistakes criminal defendants make so you know what to avoid.

1. Running

If police approach two people, and one stands there while the other runs who is the guilty party? Exactly. The police will catch you and when they do, you’ve made their case stronger.

The person who runs usually has a guilty conscience about something. A judge and jury will know this. A judge will read at the request of the prosecution a “consciousness of guilt” instruction to the jury. So, at this point facts (running away) and the law (instruction) is now against you.

You’ll provide further suspicion if you are carrying drugs, a gun, or anything you shouldn’t be. It gives them a justified reason to stop you. And there’s less chance of them violating your rights when conducting a search.

If the police get an anonymous tip that someone wearing a certain outfit is carrying drugs, it’s not enough to stop someone of that description. They need something that corroborates this to justify a pat-down or search.

By running, you’re giving them that extra corroboration to justify stopping you. Don’t give them the justification to make the case stronger against you. Instead, stand still and let them frisk you. They’ll only recover what they would have anyway after you run.

When you get to court, you have more chance to litigate a motion to suppress the evidence. The search they did would violate your privacy and is illegal.

2. Talking

When you get arrested, your first instinct might be to cooperate and try to talk your way out. But this is not the best approach to take.

When you’re arrested, you have the 5th Amendment right to remain silent. It’s wise to exercise that right and, indeed, keep quiet. Don’t say anything!

Chances are, if you open your mouth, you’ll only strengthen the prosecution’s case. Don’t talk to the police when you’re arrested. And don’t provide any written or oral statements following your arrest.

You shouldn’t talk to any fellow inmates either, or talk on the prison phones about your case! Many criminal defendants still talk to loved ones on the phone. But when they tell you the call is being recorded, it is! And will be used against you.

There’s no situation where a defendant can help themselves by giving a statement. It only hurts your case. Once witnesses have been cross-examined, your attorney will have a closing statement. This is where they can tell your side of things.

To stand a chance of success, the less evidence the prosecution has the better. But if you’re running your mouth off, you’re putting more evidence right in their lap!

3. Sharing Details on Social Media

Even if you’ve only heard it on TV, you’ll be aware of your Miranda Rights. “Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law.” That isn’t for theatrics, it’s true.

In a court of law, the prosecution can use anything you put online (via social media or email, for example). Text conversations are also considered fair game for evidence.

For instance, say you’re facing a robbery charge. You shouldn’t put online or in text anything that could connect you to the crime scene. You also don’t want to show anything that might show a sudden influx of wealth.

Don’t contact anyone online that may have weight on your case. It isn’t up to you to tell police who they should or shouldn’t interview. And don’t forget, online posts last forever. Even with deleted content, a warrant can order its recall for evidence.

4. Not Respecting the Court

No one should judge a book by its cover, we’ve all heard that saying. But in a court, judging is exactly what the jury and the judge are there to do. It’s their job, and you need to respect that.

If you show up looking unclean and messy, it doesn’t look good. A judge might find this disrespectful, and treat you as such. But if you dress for court by turning up clean, neat, and in smart dress, the judge is more likely to treat you with respect.

You may be persuasive against friends and family when talking sports or politics but this isn’t a game. Don’t think you’re qualified to take charge of your defense strategy. That’s your defense attorney’s job, so leave that to them.

They’ll give you advice on the best way forward, and proceed with your say so. But listen to them, they know what they’re doing far more than you in this case.

5. Choosing an Inexperienced Criminal Defense Attorney

A lot of the time, defendants will hire the first available or cheapest, and therefore inexperienced, attorney. Or, they might go with the one with the gift of the gab, promising results they can’t deliver. But to offer effective criminal defense counsel, the attorney needs experience.

Take the time to research and talk to experienced attorneys. They should leave you feeling comfortable and secure without making any promises. If they do, that’s a good sign to put your trust in them. Even if they cost a little extra.

Criminal Defendants – Your Worst Enemy is You

As you can see, criminal defendants often make the situation worse for themselves without realizing it. Remember, you won’t be able to make the situation better by talking, and anything you say, or post, can be used against you.

If you are in need of an experienced defense attorney, contact us for a free criminal case evaluation. With over two decades of experience in family and criminal law, we understand that every situation is unique and treat it with the respect it deserves.

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