There’s very little in life that is as stressful as being accused of a crime that you didn’t commit. If you say or do the wrong thing, even if you’re innocent, then you could appear guilty which could lead to you being charged and convicted. A recent study found that approximately 10,000 people are wrongfully convicted of serious crimes in the United States every year.
If you’ve been accused of a crime, then it’s important that you follow all of the steps that we will outline in this guide.
Understand the Severity of Your Situation
Being accused of a crime isn’t a laughing matter. A single wrong move can cost you your freedom. Don’t laugh off the situation just because you’re innocent. Innocent people are still falsely convicted. You can’t assume that the judge, jury, and the police will think that you are innocent just because you know that you are. Take the situation very seriously and handle it maturely and responsibly.
Funding Your Defence
Attorneys aren’t cheap. If you know that you’re going to be arrested beforehand, then you’ll need to find an attorney that you can afford. You might be able to get an attorney on legal aid if you haven’t got the money to pay for one. If you’ve got the money, then don’t hold back. Find the best attorney that money can buy. It’s definitely worth borrowing from friends or family to fund your defense if you don’t have the money yourself.
Contact An Attorney
If you’re going to be arrested, then you need to act quickly. Don’t wait until you’re sitting in a police station before you contact an attorney. This can cause delays in your case’s processing. It can also give the police an opportunity to attempt to interview you without your attorney present, which we will address later on.
Your attorney might be able to discuss your case with the police and convince them that you’re innocent before you’re even arrested. If you haven’t been arrested yet but you’re expecting to be, then an attorney will be able to arrange for you to hand yourself in.
Your attorney will then meet you at your local police station and sit in on your interview. They’ll also be able to sort out your bail hearing for you, which will allow you to get out of jail quickly. According to Bytensky Shikhman Barristers, a team of specialist criminal lawyers located in Toronto, your attorney will also appear at every hearing on your behalf and do all of the talking for you. Because of all of this, an attorney should be your first point of contact.
Keep Your Mouth Closed
If you’ve been accused of a crime, falsely or otherwise, then you need to keep your mouth closed. The only person that you should talk to is your attorney. Anything you say can be used against you. It’s not uncommon for comments and statements made in confidence to be used later on as evidence in court. In fact, police officers will write down anything relevant that you say and include it in your arrest report.
Don’t talk about your alleged crime with anyone other than your attorney. Even telling close friends and family members isn’t advisable. If you’re interviewed by the police without an attorney, then you mustn’t say a single thing until they arrive. It’s not uncommon for police officers to pressure people into giving false admissions of guilt. If you end up incriminating yourself, it can be very difficult for your attorney to get you off of the hook later on down the line.
Preserve Any Evidence
If there’s any evidence that proves that you weren’t responsible, then hold onto it. Evidence of your innocence can be very useful if you’re charged and taken to court. Try to compile as much evidence that shows that you are innocent as you can. Write down the names of people that you were with on the day that the crime was committed, and the times that you were with them.
You should also try to retrace your steps and figure out where you were exactly as the crime was being committed. Your attorney might be able to use this information to locate CCTV evidence that proves that you weren’t at the scene of the crime. It’s also good to have witnesses. If you know anybody that would be willing to stand up in court and confirm that you weren’t responsible for committing the crime, then pass their contact details onto your attorney. Character witnesses can also be very useful.
Don’t Investigate It Yourself
If you’re charged, your attorney will conduct an investigation into the crime and the prosecution’s evidence. They’ll interview witnesses and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case. A lot of people try to investigate their own cases. You mustn’t ever do this. You can actually get into trouble for trying to investigate your own case, especially if you’ve been issued a temporary restraining order or have been forbidden from going to certain places until your case is dealt with.
Try to Relax
It’s only natural that you will be extremely stressed out, nervous, and scared, especially if you’re being blamed for something that you didn’t do. You must relax, however. If you don’t calm yourself down and collect your thoughts, you won’t be able to deal with your case rationally and maturely. Make sure that you continue eating healthily, get enough sleep, and still exercise. Don’t let false charges interfere with your routine and throw your life into disarray.
If it’s looking like you’re going to be convicted notwithstanding your innocence, it might be best to take a plea agreement. You should talk this through with your attorney before you make a decision. A plea agreement might allow you to plead guilty to a lesser charge and receive a lower sentence. You can then appeal your case and fight it afterwards. This gives you more time to work on your defence and build a stronger case.
Being accused of a crime can be very intimidating. If you’ve got no previous experience with the police or with the law, then hopefully this article will be helpful. Try not to stress yourself out and make sure that you hire an attorney. Good luck!