The United States has been suffering from an epidemic of police misconduct and brutality. It seems every week, we get news of another person shot by police. In the world of criminal law, the scenario has become all too common. Another criminal law epidemic that is going unnoticed is the number of people wrongly convicted of a serious crime.
Most cases never make it to trial. This is true of civil cases as well as criminal law cases. In personal injury lawsuits about 96% are decided out of court, meaning only 4% ever see the inside of a courtroom. The same can be said for criminal law cases. The criminal law system?s reliance on plea bargains does not mean that fewer people are wrongly convicted, it may mean more are. Research done by the Social Science Research Network shows that innocent people are much more likely to be advised by their criminal attorney to take a plea because if they go to trial and lose, their sentence will be much longer.
According to the book Convicted But Innocent: Wrongful Conviction and Public Policy approximately 10,000 people are wrongly convicted of serious crimes ranging from forcible rape to manslaughter. Given these frightening statistics, having a plan for what you might do if you are arrested is a pragmatic idea. Have a game plan ready.
What you should do if you are wrongly accused of a crime.
- Learn about Miranda. First, you need to know your rights with police. You do not have to tell them anything so do not say anything. When they say, ?anything you say can and will be used against you,? they mean it. Find a criminal defense lawyer and talk to them before you say anything to the police.
- Call 911 first. If you find yourself in a situation where something criminal might happen, say you are having an altercation with someone, call 911 before they do. You will look much more credible in the eyes of the criminal law system if you called the authorities first.
- Remember, they need a warrant to search your home. Make sure the police have a warrant if they want to search anything. You will wind what they are looking for and you can watch to see if they execute the warrant properly. If they do not, anything they find will be thrown out of court. When dealing with the criminal law system, you need as much documentation as you can get.
- To the police, you are guilty until proven innocent. If the police are looking at you, they are looking at you like you are guilty. The criminal law system is not as interested in finding the truth of a case as they are in moving it along in the system. It is a broken system that can cause you a lot of harm. Unlike when you are injured by a faulty product and can file a product liability lawsuit with the criminal law system, all you can do is get through it.
The most important thing you can do is find a good lawyer to help you fight any wrongful charges.