If you are accustomed to reading crime novels or watching procedural dramas on television, you may feel as though you have a good sense of how criminal law functions. Unfortunately, the kinds of things you encounter in these fictional settings, what you hear from friends, or read on the internet are not always how things work when it comes to the reality of the criminal justice system.
In addition to the fact that fictionalized accounts of criminal law tend to use creative license to produce more dramatic content, laws are constantly changing. It is not always easy to distinguish fact from myths when it comes to criminal law.
If you have recently been in trouble with law enforcement, it is essential that the information you are getting about how the justice system works is correct and up to date. This is why it is vital that you have an experienced lawyer on your side who can provide you with the clarity you need to have a chance at maintaining your liberties.
What Are Some Common Myths about Criminal Law?
There are countless myths that people believe when it comes to criminal law. Here are a few of the most common.
Myth Number One: Your Statements Cannot Be Used Against You if Law Enforcement Officers Don’t Read Your Miranda Rights
Due to the influence of television and film, people often assume that nothing they say can be used against them in court if a police officer does not read them their Miranda rights and, therefore, their case will be dropped automatically.
In fact, law enforcement officers are legally obligated to read you your Miranda rights when they arrest you and if they have the intention to interrogate you. If you have not been arrested, you are expected to know your Miranda rights already. Anything you say at any point before you are arrested can still be used against you in a court of law.
If you are arrested and interrogated by an officer, and they have not read your Miranda rights, any statements you make that may be incriminating are subject to exclusion from a trial. However, even if the court throws out your statements, your case can continue.
Myth Number Two: Evidence Cannot Be Used if the Police Didn’t Have a Search Warrant
While a warrant is necessary to perform searches in many cases, there are some significant exceptions. These include such situations as these:
- You give consent to the search
- The evidence is in plain or open view
- You’re subject to a stop-and-frisk
- Your automobile is searched
- The search follows an arrest
Even though these situations do not always require a warrant, each of these exceptions must still meet legal standards and requirements. If these requirements are not met prior to the occurrence of the search, a court may not allow evidence from that search to be used.
Myth Number Three: You Don’t Need a Lawyer if You Are Pleading Guilty
Deciding to enter a guilty plea without consulting with a lawyer is one of the most dangerous myths you can fall for. If you choose to accept a plea bargain, you must be sure that it is the best offer available. A criminal defense attorney will have the knowledge and skill necessary to get a reduced sentence if that’s possible or even to have the charge against you reduced to a lower one.
How We Can Help
If you have recently been in trouble with law enforcement, or if you know someone who has, don’t let the myths you may believe about criminal law become a liability for your case. Contact the criminal defense attorneys at Bain Sheldon, who can clarify your rights and fight for your best interests. Call us today at 804-282-8625.