If you’re ever pulled over to the side of the road when driving, asked to confirm your identity, and charged with a crime, do you know what to do and what not do?
One source notes there are north of 10 million arrests made every year in the U.S. No one wants to imagine living out such a scenario. But it’s a good idea to know how to behave should you face such a nightmare situation since what you do or don’t do can help or hinder your cause.
Keep reading to see five errors to avoid at all costs if accused of committing a criminal offense.
- Talking Way Too Much
One of the worst things you can do when accused of committing a criminal offense is to get too chatty with the police officers executing the arrest. When one of the officers informs you of your right to remain silent, take those words of wisdom to heart. Even if you’re innocent, you’re doing yourself no favors by opening up and spilling your guts when questioned.
You are legally obligated to provide personal information like your name, address, and other information needed to verify your identity. But you are not legally obligated to provide any information relating to whatever crime you’re accused of. Anything you disclose during an encounter with the police can be used against you in a court of law, so beware of what you say. Outside of answering basic questions about your identity, invoke your right to stay silent.
- Failing to Hire a Lawyer
Yet another mistake you’ll want to avoid is failing to hire a lawyer specializing in criminal law — particularly a legal professional who defends people accused of committing crimes. The police can detain you for up to a day without actually charging you with a criminal offense.
During your time in custody, the police will try to get you to open up by peppering you with questions.
It’s a fallacy to believe that you have nothing to lose by answering questions if you are innocent. But being innocent is no reason to waive your right to seek legal counsel before speaking to the police. Police interrogators are trained to get suspects to provide information that can be used against them in court, so insist on having a lawyer present for interrogations.
With a criminal defense attorney by your side, you’ll have someone who can advise which questions you should answer and which questions you should refrain from answering. If it’s not in your best interests to agree to DNA, breath, blood, or other tests, your lawyer will insist that the police first get a court order. Dealing with the police before hiring a lawyer is a mistake.
- Sharing Details About Your Criminal Charges on Social Media
Billions of people worldwide have social media accounts, and many share or overshare every detail of their lives. When facing criminal charges, you must be mindful of what you post online. What might seem like an innocent post can come back to bite you.
Don’t get a false sense of security if your social media posts are private since a judge can force you to disclose such messages if deemed relevant to the case. So, if you have a criminal case in progress, don’t post anything about it online. If in doubt, ask your criminal defense lawyer.
- Representing Yourself
Another mistake to avoid is representing yourself in court. Such a move might work in the movies, but you don’t want to roll the dice when it comes to your freedom. Depending on the charges, you could be facing months or years in jail. What you need is an experienced criminal defense attorney to explain what you’re up against, build the strongest case possible, and get you the most favorable legal outcome. Representing yourself will lower your chances of success.
- Reaching Out to Your Accuser
While contacting your accuser to iron things out might be tempting, that’s one of the worst things you can do after being charged with a criminal offense. A criminal court judge may view your efforts to clear the air and resolve the matter as an attempt to intimidate your accuser. So, regardless of your motive, don’t contact your accuser. Contact your lawyer instead.
Avoid these five mistakes like the plague if you’re charged with a crime. There are other things you should avoid, but you can learn the other dos and don’ts by speaking with your lawyer.