If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, call an attorney immediately. Just because you are arrested and charged, does not mean that you are guilty. But, just because you are innocent does not mean you should not hire a criminal defense attorney. Innocent people are arrested all the time, and they are often convicted.
To make sure that you are not convicted of a crime you did not commit, you need to have legal representation that will advocate effectively on your behalf. You need to have legal representation by an experienced criminal defense attorney who will help you navigate the criminal justice system.
If you have been arrested for a crime you did not commit, call Weinstein Legal today. Florida Criminal Defense attorney Matt Shafran has experience in handling a wide range of offenses from criminal traffic offenses such as DUIs to petit theft and domestic battery, robbery, DUI manslaughter, and more.
What to Do If You Are Arrested and Are Innocent
Innocent people do get arrested. You may have been misidentified or just unluckily in the wrong place at the wrong time. In addition to calling an attorney, you need to follow a few simple rules. It is important to know your rights when you are arrested, even if you didn't commit the crime.
You Have the Right to Remain Silent
First, and this can't be stressed enough, do not give a statement to the police until you talk to an attorney. You've probably heard the words on TV shows and movies, but you do have the right to remain silent.
While the law says you are innocent until proven guilty, you may feel like you have been assumed guilty upon arrest. The Fifth Amendment gives you the right to refuse to implicate yourself when charged with a crime. However, that doesn't mean the police will ignore it if you do, so don't say a word until your lawyer is present.
You may think you can talk your way out of the situation. You may think asking for an attorney will make the authorities think you are guilty. It's more likely that by going it alone, you will make the situation worse. And think about it. If you've been arrested, they already think you are guilty, even if you are not.
Stay Calm and Be Polite
It's normal to protest and even get a little bit out of hand when you've been accused of and arrested for something you didn't do. And when the police question you, they are not always calm or polite. Their aggressive questioning style can be scary and frustrating.
No matter, remain calm and be polite. Do not resist arrest or try to argue with law enforcement officers. They have heard it all. Resisting will make them think you are guilty and could cause additional charges to be filed against you.
Do Not Post Bail Until You Speak to an Attorney
You or your loved ones may want to post bail right away. This may be a bad idea. You should first speak with your attorney, who can help you decide what to do. An experienced criminal defense attorney can review your case and assess the likelihood of bail being lowered or waived. Your attorney can also let you know if the charges are likely to be dropped at arraignment. If that happens, the accused would be released soon without having to pay bail.
You Have a Constitutional Right to Represent Yourself
Most people are familiar with the first, second, and fifth amendments to the U.S. Constitution. No one thinks about the Sixth Amendment. This is the amendment that gives you the right to represent yourself. But that doesn't mean that you should. Representing yourself in court is a very bad idea.
Because it is really not a good idea, the court takes steps to make sure you are certain you want to represent yourself. In order to do so, you must demonstrate that you intelligently, knowingly, and voluntarily gave up your right to a criminal defense attorney. You can ask to represent yourself, but the judge does not have to let you do it.
If you decide to represent yourself, the court will require that you have a competency hearing. At this time, the trial judge will ask you legal questions to see if you are competent. The judge is testing to see if you are able to understand what you are doing when you give up your right to counsel. Even if the judge agrees to let you represent yourself in court, they may appoint a standby attorney to help.
When you exercise your Sixth Amendment right to represent yourself, you cannot later complain that your defense was insufficient and that you were denied counsel. The courts go to great lengths to show that you knew what you were doing and acted recklessly.
Your Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel
Although the Sixth Amendment gives you the right to represent yourself, it also gives you the right to a lawyer. Your right to a criminal defense attorney begins when the government begins criminal proceedings against you. The first part of this proceeding is the bond hearing after your arrest or in some circumstances where you aren't formally arrested your arraignment. Your guaranteed the right to counsel applies to misdemeanor and felony offenses.
In addition to guaranteeing your right to counsel, the Sixth Amendment states that if you cannot afford an attorney, you can have a state-appointed lawyer at the state's expense. You do, however, have to qualify for the services of a state-appointed lawyer. The attorney is required to represent you to the best of their ability.
Can I Pick My Own Lawyer?
If you choose to use a state-appointed lawyer, you get who the court decides you get. State-appointed attorneys generally carry a high caseload and may not be able to give your case the attention it deserves. Additionally, you won't be able to have full 24/7 access to that attorney. By obtaining your own attorney, you get an attorney dedicated to your case and a team that supports them in your representation. They will have experienced, in-depth knowledge of criminal law, and be able to develop proactive strategies that may be able to get your case dismissed.
Call an Experienced Florida Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a crime that you or they did not commit, it is essential that you hire a criminal defense attorney right away. You need to fight the charge with everything you've got. Don't admit to something you didn't do, and don't give the police a chance to work on you. Call a lawyer and sit tight until you've spoken to one.
Even if you are never charged with a crime, having an arrest on your record can have negative consequences for you. It could show up on a background check. You may need to disclose it when applying for a professional license. And, it can be used to keep you from getting a job. A criminal defense attorney can help ensure your record stays clean.