Most people don’t know what to expect when they are questioned by police or arrested. They often make mistakes that hurt their case down the line, even if they’ve done nothing wrong. Texas criminal defense attorney Franklyn Mickelsen wants you to be prepared so you can avoid these five common mistakes:
Mistake #1: Make admissions to the police without the assistance of a lawyer
You’ve been arrested. You know you’re in trouble, and the police are authority figures; it’s instinctual to try to appease them. Officers will encourage you to talk to them about the problem or incident, assuring you that everything will be easier if you just come clean. It is always a mistake to do so.
The police are allowed to mislead a suspect during an interrogation, so it’s likely they’re not telling you the truth. Anything you admit can be used as evidence against you and can weaken your position if you are ultimately charged with a crime.
Mistake #2: Provide explanations or exculpatory information to the police without the assistance of a lawyer
You believe this is all a horrible mistake. You think you can explain the situation to the police, and they will realize they’ve made an error in arresting you. This almost never happens.
The police consider you a suspect. They have made an arrest based on information they consider reliable and, as a result, they will discount any explanations you give. When you provide an explanation, their recording of your statements will often be inaccurate or incomplete, and it will be more difficult to present your explanation as defense in criminal court. Although there are exceptions, in general, it is safer to keep quiet until you have the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer.
Mistake #3: Agree to cooperate without the assistance of a lawyer
If you have been involved in some illegal activity, the police may offer you the option of cooperating. Do not agree to this without the assistance of a lawyer. If the police want your cooperation on the day of your arrest, they will still be interested in your cooperation tomorrow. An experienced lawyer will protect your rights during the process and give you valuable advice about the realistic outcomes that might arise from your cooperation.
Mistake #4: Wait to hire a lawyer until after you are indicted or formally charged
If you have been arrested, hire a lawyer as soon as you get out of jail. The earlier the lawyer is on the case, the better your chances of a favorable outcome.
Mistake #5: Hire a lawyer who is also your bail bondsman
In most states, lawyers may not act as bail bondsmen. However, this is not true in some states, such as Texas. The problem with your lawyer being a bail bondsman is that your lawyer then has a financial stake in your appearance at court. If you make your lawyer nervous, he can request relief from financial responsibility should you fail to appear in court, resulting in your arrest.
You should always avoid the possibility of working with a lawyer whose financial interests oppose your interests. When you are being prosecuted for a crime, you need an advocate with nothing but your best interest at heart.