If you are like most people, you probably fit into one of two camps. Those who have committed crimes (driving after drinking too much, hitting someone, shoplifting, smoking pot, speeding, etc.) and either got caught or did not. But there is a third camp, which you may not be aware of: people who are wrongly accused of a crime and arrested. You assume that if someone is accused of a crime, they “probably” did it.
This is a fair assumption. However, if only 5% of the 13,000,000 people accused of a crime in this country each year did not do it, that equates to about 650,000 wrongly accused persons. What would you do if you were arrested for a crime you did not commit? Oh, you say, “I will swear on a stack of bibles or I will take a lie detector test” and then they will let me go. Guess again. As a criminal defense attorney for over 20 years, I can tell you that it is much more difficult to prove a negative.
What I mean is, can you tell me where you were at 4:30pm six months ago today? How about last week? Now, prove it. And suppose you did, in fact, once commit a similar crime when you were younger. Do you think anyone is going to believe you now? Or, what if someone is out to get you and lies? Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are ever arrested, rightfully or wrongfully.
1. Be the First to Call the Cops.
I can tell you from my experience as a lawyer for 20+ years that in most cases, “He or She Who Calls The Cops First … Wins.” If a man and women are fighting and the women hits the man first and then he hits her back, when the cops arrive, who do you think is getting arrested? I have seen cases where my male client was covered in scratches from NOT hitting his partner, but her wrists were red from where he held her back and guess who went to jail and was charged with Battery? Guess who called the cops? This applies to non-domestic cases as well. If you are ever assaulted and you hit the person back and his nose bleeds but yours doesn’t, absent any witnesses, guess who goes to jail?
2. Exercise your 5th Amendment Right to KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT.
Cops have VERY difficult jobs. We ask them to make split second decisions when they are in impossible situations. They are human like you and me and have biases and predispositions. Yes, they get training, but at the end of the day, they are not much better than you and me at determining when someone is lying. Thus, they are trained to do everything they can to get you to confess or sound like you are confessing. I don’t fault them for trying, but this is a very imperfect system. When a cop decides to arrest Tom instead of Peter, Tom’s life is never going to be the same regardless of his innocence or guilt. Tom gets put in handcuffs. Tom spends the night, week or year in jail. Tom has to find the money to hire a lawyer. Tom probably loses his job. Tom’s family, even if they support him, will never look at him the same way again. And, if after Tom’s case goes to trial and if he is found NOT GUILTY, do you think anyone will really believe he did not do it? Despite the fact that of the legal system says, “You are Presumed Innocent”, most of us presume anyone arrested is guilty. Thus, if you are ever arrested, DO NOT SPEAK TO THE COPS UNTIL YOU SPEAK TO YOUR LAWYER. If a cop asks to search your house without a search warrant, SAY NO. And do not fall for the line “if you are innocent, then you should have nothing to hide”. No. If you are innocent or guilty, you don’t have to help the police gather evidence that can and will be used against you.
3. Get a Lawyer and Don’t Choose the Least Expensive.
As mentioned above, most people will assume that since you got arrested, you are probably guilty. You may be reluctant to hire a lawyer or even ask for one because you have been brought up to believe that if you just tell the truth, everything will be okay. That if you hire a lawyer, you must be guilty or have something to hide. Turn on the news on any given day and you will see someone who did not have a lawyer present when they spoke to the police and are now being set free after 10 years in prison because they did not do it. Thus, you should ask for and hire a lawyer BEFORE you speak to the police. It is unfortunate that an innocent person has to spend money, and possibly go into debt, to avoid being wrongly convicted. And no, you do not get reimbursed for your lawyer after you are exonerated. However, it’s better to be in debt than in jail. I tell anyone who is arrested, find a lawyer who specializes in the area of law for which you were arrested. Do not hire a family lawyer who dabbles in criminal cases if you are arrested for sexual assault. If you are arrested for DUI, hire a lawyer who handles a lot of DUI cases. Ask them how many cases they have tried in court. Once you find a lawyer you are comfortable with, don’t let price dissuade you from hiring him or her.
Prepare yourself. You are going to experience one of the hardest things you have ever had to endure. Friends will show their true colors and family will suspect you are guilty no matter what they say. Your only focus should be to have the charges dropped or to prove your innocence. If you keep your head about you and follow the advice above, you should have a better chance of weathering the storm.
If you would like to discuss your case, or even have us suggest another attorney if we don’t handle your kind of case, please call me anytime for a free consultation at (561) 752-9288 Jason A. Diamond, Esq., President of the Law Offices of Jason A. Diamond d/b/a The Traffic Ticket Team.