Have you ever been charged with a crime? If not, will you ever be? Not so fast.
You may think that you’ll never be investigated for, arrested for, or charged with a crime, but you can’t control that. It takes more than conscientiously following the law to avoid being charged in court. You’ll need good luck, too. Plenty of innocent people are charged with — and even convicted of — crimes that they did not commit. You’ll see it in the national news and in the local news. It happens everywhere, even right here in Denver. There are high-profile cases and small ones. Some mistakes end with charges being dropped; other times, people are unfairly punished.
Regardless of how law-abiding you may or may not be, it pays to know a little bit about the criminal justice system in Denver. Here are three mistakes that could cost you dearly in a criminal case.
Assuming that it matters that you’re innocent
As we just explained, the unfortunate truth is that innocent people are often suspected of crimes, arrested, and even convicted in court. In fact, one Denver man was falsely arrested twice.
If you are innocent, it’s easy to want to believe that the truth will win the day. And maybe it will. You can, and should, keep the faith. But don’t extend that faith to include a belief in the competency, open-mindedness, and fairness of investigators, prosecutors, and judges. Doing so would be a big mistake.
Whether you are innocent or not, your approach to a criminal case should be the same. Protect your rights, and don’t try to speed things along by helping investigators and prosecutors. You could end up helping them convict you. It has happened to thousands of innocent people, and it could happen to you, too.
Speaking to the police
If you’re innocent, you may want to tell the police your story so that they can rule you out. Even if you’re not sure that you’re completely innocent, you may find yourself tempted to chat with the police. That’s a perfectly natural instinct — and one that you should fight with all your might. And police, including those here in Denver, will play on that instinct.
It will virtually never help you to speak to the police without a lawyer. No good can come of it. In fact, such a mistake can lead to all sorts of terrible things, from false confessions to incriminating statements. A mistake you make speaking to the police could become an obstruction of justice charge; an innocent comment could become the evidence that helps convict you of a crime you never committed. Don’t risk it. Don’t speak to the police.
Waiting too long to get a lawyer
Picture this: You’ve been arrested. You get a lawyer. Who has the advantage: you or the prosecution? It’s the prosecution, of course. For days, weeks, months, or even years, they’ve been building a case against you. They have gathered the evidence that they need. They are familiar with every detail of the case, and they are determined to nail you. Meanwhile, your lawyer is just shaking your hand and introducing himself or herself.
Here’s a better idea: Get a Denver criminal lawyer the moment you have any inkling that you are connected to an investigation. Speak to the police only through your attorney. If he or she is on the case early, your lawyer can more easily follow up on leads that may prove your innocence. He or she will have access to evidence that may later disappear. And your attorney will grow familiar with the case and fight for your rights ahead of any possible arrest. You’ll be less likely to be arrested and more likely to beat the case if you are charged.
Choosing a local Denver lawyer is key. Denver lawyers know the local police and their procedures. They know prosecutors and even judges. The local touch matters, so get your Denver lawyer fast to fight for your rights.