As criminal defense attorneys in NYC we meet plenty of people who make our jobs a lot harder long before they become our clients. Dealing with the criminal justice system is so confusing and so stressful making mistakes is easy.
Ideally, if you know you’re under investigation for a crime, or could be, you’d have representation lined up already. This may allow you to end the possibility of a criminal charge before it starts. But if you can’t do that, at least avoid these four mistakes.
Getting combative with the police.
Would you like to hand the State a huge pile of evidence to use against you in court? Things that will make you look bad to the jury and reduce your chances of an acquittal?
Just be sure to yell, scream, swear at, and insult the police when they arrest you.
Their body cams are recording. Their dash cams are recording. The State is catching all of this. They may absolutely enter this footage into evidence.
And even if you’re rightfully angry because you know you’re innocent, these sorts of displays certainly won’t keep any cop from booking you.
You can make it even worse by thrashing around or making too many big physical moves. It will give the police the power to tack on a resisting arrest charge which may result in a conviction even if you are innocent of everything else you’re being accused of.
So if you’re arrested, understand your life is about to be disrupted. Take a breath. Play it cool. And concentrate on weathering this storm as best as you can.
Volunteering information to the police.
Nothing good comes of saying anything to police during an interrogation. They will not let you go, they will not suddenly decide you are innocent. What they’ll do is lead you to saying a bunch of things that incriminate you, even if those things seem innocuous to you.
Remember, too, that cops have every legal right to lie to you. And they are very good at using lies to push you into saying things you should not say. Their psychological tactics are good enough that they’ve even inspired innocent people to confess to crimes they didn’t commit.
Don’t play the game. You can’t win.
Invoke your right to counsel immediately to end any interview. Invoke your right to silence after giving basic information like name, address, phone number, and date of birth.
Then exercise both rights.
Failing to hire a lawyer.
We have all the respect in the world for public defenders, but the stats don’t lie. They’re overworked, underpaid, and usually don’t have a lot of time to meet with you. Most of the time they can’t devote all the energy necessary to pick apart the State’s case.
If you go with a public defender you’re likely to end up signing a plea agreement. That means you could still do some jail time and you will still have a criminal record. Sometimes that’s the right choice, but it shouldn’t be the default.
If you have any way to get an experienced, private lawyer, do so. And don’t assume you don’t. For example, our office works with clients to make payments manageable and fair all the time. Most of the time the details of these arrangements will not be represented on any lawyer’s website, so ask. You never know until you do.
See also: The Pros and Cons of Plea Bargains.
Ignoring your lawyer’s advice.
Once you hire a lawyer, let the lawyer be the expert. We’ll evaluate the case and give you our opinion on your best options. If we tell you not to testify, it’s probably a bad idea for you to do so. If we tell you your own case is weak don’t insist on pushing it to trial.
Remember, it’s not about right, wrong, fair, or unfair at this point. It’s about working a highly entrenched system to get the best possible result.
Lying to your lawyer.
The more we know about the truth of your case, the less likely we are to be blindsided. Guilty clients have a constitutional right to defense, too. A case in which you are guilty is not open and shut. It’s nuanced. A lot of good people make bad mistakes.
So if you’re guilty, tell us so. It will help us do right by you. And remember, even if you’re not guilty lying about some embarrassing detail can mean leaving us to get blindsided by it later. You and your attorneys must fight for your rights as a team. Your part of that is providing us, truthfully, with any information we ask for.
Are you in trouble with the law? Do you need help? Don’t tank your case. Contact our office today to get the representation you deserve.
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Experience as a former prosecutor gives Jeffery Greco and edge in building the strongest possible defense strategy for the accused in Ney York City
A through investigation is key to finding every reasonable doubt and geting charges reduced or dismissed for NYC defense attorney Dustan Neyland.