False arrest for a crime I did not commit
Recently on our legal forum an individual asked, “I was arrested last night for a crime I did not commit. I like to believe that this will all get sorted out and the police will do the best they can to solve this case but I am scared. Should I talk to a criminal defense lawyer? Or can I just sort this out on my own?”
Police make mistakes
Whether it’s due to shoddy police investigative tactics, false witness testimony, framing an innocent person, or any other mistakes, a certain number of people are falsely arrested each year and charged with crimes such as rape, domestic violence, murder, and even drug possession.
What’s more troubling, however, is that the arrest individual may voluntarily go to the police and try to explain events on their own simply hoping that the charges will go away. Unfortunately, too often the individual finds themselves charged, arrested, convicted and serving time in jail or prison for a crime they did not commit.
Steps to take after a false arrest
- Take the criminal charges seriously
The first step if you have been arrested for a crime you did not commit is to take the charges seriously. Depending on the charges, the consequences of being convicted can be very serious.
Talk to a criminal defense lawyer immediately. Find out how much it will cost to clear your name. Now is not the time to go cheap. You do not have to hire the most expensive lawyer, but you will want to ensure that your defense attorney has the skills and expertise to successfully defend your case.
- Gather evidence for your defense
Although your defense lawyer will request information from you, you will also need to provide details about your case. If you have information about where you were, who you were with at the time the crime was committed, phone calls made, or any other information which would corroborate your testimony that you are innocent this needs to be presented to your defense team.
Especially critical to your defense is witness testimony. Information to gather about witnesses includes their name, employer, back ground information, address and phone numbers, and information about whether or not you believe they would make a good witness.
Whether or not someone wants to testify may also be irrelevant for your case. In fact, the court can subpoena testimony from witnesses and force them to testify.
- Understand the legal process and the charges filed against you
Information is power. The more you understand about the legal system and the charges which have been filed against you, the more likely you are to win your case. With the proliferation of legal information on the internet there is no reason to remain ignorant about the US legal system.
If you have been charged with a felony you will need to review information about what the prosecution must prove for them to win their case and the fines and penalties you might face if you are falsely convicted.
- Protect your rights
Americans are afforded the most freedoms and constitutional protections of any society which has ever existed. Unfortunately, many Americans willingly forfeit their rights by allowing police to conduct warrantless searches, not remaining silent, and not taking advantage of competent legal representation.
If you have been falsely accused of a crime it is especially important to understand your rights. Do not talk to the police without a lawyer present. Do not voluntarily allow them search your home or car, and most importantly, hire a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
If you have falsely accused and arrested for a crime you did not commit, there are no guarantees. The best way to protect yourself is to take the steps above and understand your rights.
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