You've been charged with a crime. It's a disheartening experience, whether you're guilty or not. In the months that follow, you will face numerous meetings with your lawyer, along with court dates to determine your guilt or innocence — along with any punishments you may face. This is a challenging time, and you need to pay close attention to your actions in order to help ensure a good outcome. Here are a few common mistakes to make when you're facing criminal charges.
Mistake #1: Talking too much
As the Miranda warning states, anything you say can be used against you in court. So your best bet is not to talk at all unless your lawyer is present and has specifically instructed you to say something. You may think that by simply explaining your side, you can clear your name — but this rarely happens. What's more likely is that you will accidentally say something that can be framed as an admission of guilt or a reason for suspicion. The Fifth Amendment gives you the right to remain silent, and you should fully take advantage of that right.
Mistake #2: Sharing on social media
You may have the urge to share the idea that you've been charged on social media. Or perhaps, later on, you'll want to complain about your court dates or trial. You need to resist this urge. Anything you say on social media is on the Internet forever, even if you delete it. You never know how the prosecution will misinterpret what you say or any pictures that you post. For example, even a picture of yourself driving a certain car could be used to argue that you have more money now than before and that you must have obtained it illegally. It's best to just stay silent on social media until the entire case is over. Delete or temporarily suspend your accounts.
Mistake #3: Not showing up to court dates
If you don't show up, they can't convict you, right? Wrong. The court can certainly hold a trial in your absence. You just won't be there to defend yourself. Not showing up to court reflects very negatively on you and will probably result in the judge imposing a much harsher sentence. Do not skip court thinking that it will result in a delay of your trial and conviction. Showing up, as hard as it might be, is the best bet.
Mistake #4: Trying to dispose of evidence
If you have anything in your possession that could be seen as evidence of your crime, do not throw it away. You might think that getting rid of the item will make you less likely to be found guilty of the crime, but if someone happens to find the item in the trash, the fact that you disposed of it can point to your guilt. Tell your lawyer about any items you have that could come up as evidence — they will guide you as to how to handle these items.
Mistake #5: Defending yourself
Legally, you have the right to represent yourself in court rather than hiring a lawyer. But doing so is a very, very bad idea. Criminal lawyers have a lot of education and experience that allows them to formulate the best defense for you. They have pull with certain judges and other officials and may be able to arrange a plea deal to get your charges dropped or reduced — something you're very unlikely to be able to do on your own. Hiring a good criminal lawyer to represent you is the most important thing you will do when facing criminal charges.
Contact a firm that offers criminal law services in your area today for more information.