If you’re lucky, you’ll never have to experience criminal charges being brought against you. However, thousands of people every day – both the innocent and the guilty – have to navigate their local court systems. Here are some of the most common mistakes that people make.
Talking to the Police Without a Lawyer
The police can and will share what they see and hear as evidence for a trial. This is why, when they arrest you, they read you your Miranda Rights. This is what you most often see on television, and it’s reasonably accurate. You do have the right to remain silent, and everything you say can be held against you in court. So, that’s exactly what you should do – remain silent. Afterward, the police are within their rights to try and get you to speak. They can and will ask questions. But you should not respond until you’ve consulted with a lawyer and know exactly what you want to say. The alternative – even if you’re trying to convince them of your innocence – could result in saying something that hurts your case.
Changing lawyers can weaken your case. Why? Well, everybody is guaranteed the right to legal representation under the US Constitution. That means that even if you cannot afford one, you will be provided a defense lawyer. They might be fantastic – or you might dislike them. Here’s the problem: you are not guaranteed the right to whichever lawyer you want, and switching can be bad for your case. Defense attorneys for the state are already swamped with dozens, if not hundreds of cases at a time. Bringing one on at an inopportune moment would just weaken their focus and knowledge of your case even more. The best option (for both flexibility and a better case) would be an attorney that you hire yourself.
Technically, if you wish, you can defend yourself in court instead of hiring a lawyer or taking one appointed by the state. This is generally an extremely bad idea. Defending yourself would practically guarantee that you will lose. The court system is complex enough that it takes years and years of studying and rigorous tests, not to mention experience in the field before a lawyer can know what they’re doing. You cannot replicate that by watching a tutorial online or by doing a Google search.
If you are such a person who has had criminal charges placed in their lap – don’t panic. You’ve got to give this situation the best shot you can and trust that you can make it through whatever happens. If you prepare as best you can, listen to your lawyer, and obtain solid legal counsel – you’ll be okay.
Check out this article on how to increase your chances of winning a civil lawsuit!