Avoiding Common Mistakes When Facing Criminal Charges

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When facing criminal charges, navigating the legal landscape can be daunting. Many find themselves inadvertently making mistakes that could have serious repercussions for their case and future.

This guide aims to arm you with knowledge about avoiding these frequent errors, providing a foundation for informed decisions throughout your legal journey.

Whether it’s understanding the importance of securing competent legal representation or knowing when to speak and what to disclose, this post will serve as your essential primer on steering clear of complications that could undermine your defense.

Do Not Speak Without a Lawyer Present

After an arrest, emotions run high. It’s crucial to stay calm and think clearly. One major mistake is making statements without an attorney present. You might want to explain your side, thinking it could help. But, anything you say can AND WILL be used against you in court.

Another error is attempting to negotiate or explain yourself to the police post-arrest. Choose your words wisely and explain as calmly as you can when talking with law enforcement. 

You might lash out during those times or get too emotional—that will not help your case at all. The best thing to say if you want to tell your side of the story is, “I will give a statement after consulting with and upon the advice of an attorney. I want an attorney now.”

Law enforcement officers are skilled in interrogation techniques that may lead you to inadvertently incriminate yourself further. 

Resist the urge to contact victims or witnesses directly after your arrest. This can be seen as tampering and could worsen your situation significantly.

  • Do not make statements without a lawyer.
  • Avoid negotiating with the police on your own.
  • Resist contacting victims or witnesses directly.

Avoid Discussing Your Case with Other People

Lawyer discussing legal case with clientKeeping quiet about your legal situation might seem counterintuitive, especially when you are facing a difficult time. 

However, there are several compelling reasons why it is crucial to avoid discussing your case with anyone besides your lawyer:

Maintaining Confidentiality

Anything you disclose to someone other than your lawyer, including friends, family, or even seemingly harmless conversations online, will not be considered “confidential.” 

That means the person you spoke with could be compelled to disclose that conversation. Your attorney–and others, like clergy or spouses–have special protections that prevent them from being forced to disclose protected conversations, including confessions.

This legal protection shields your confidential communications with your lawyer, preventing their use against you in court. 

Sharing details outside of this protected space jeopardizes this privilege and could have unforeseen consequences.

Misinformation and Misunderstandings

Legal matters are often complex, and sharing details with individuals unfamiliar with the intricacies of the law can lead to misinterpretations and misinformation. This can cause unnecessary worry, cloud your judgment, and even hinder your lawyer’s ability to effectively represent you.

Unintended Consequences

Casual conversations can take unexpected turns, and information you share, even with good intentions, might be misconstrued or taken out of context. 

I have handled hundreds of appeals and a large number of them have witnesses who recount a conversation or statement taken out of context that was extremely harmful to my client. 

Oftentimes, that statement alone is what led to a conviction and someone losing their freedom and liberty. Remember, once something is uttered, it’s difficult to control how it’s interpreted or disseminated.

Emotional Support

While discussing your situation can be emotionally therapeutic, your lawyer is ultimately the best person to confide in about your case. They are trained professionals equipped to offer objective legal advice, making sure your well-being is considered while navigating the legal process.

Protecting Your Case

Maintaining confidentiality is crucial for protecting your legal strategy and future options. By keeping the details of your case between yourself and your lawyer, you ensure they can develop the most effective strategy and negotiate on your behalf from a position of strength.

Avoid Self-Incrimination

The right to remain silent is powerful. Use it until you have legal counsel present. Do not volunteer information to the police without an attorney’s advice.

Exercising this right is not a sign of guilt, but rather a protective measure to shield yourself from potential self-incrimination. In fact, if your case goes to trial, the jury will be given a special jury instruction demanding that they not infer anything negative regarding your guilt simply because you exercised your right to remain silent. 

Remember, anything you say can and will be used against you in court, regardless of your intent or innocence. Therefore, it’s essential to wait until you have legal counsel present before engaging in any conversation with law enforcement. 

An attorney can provide crucial guidance and ensure your rights are protected throughout the entire legal process. 

By remaining silent and seeking legal representation, you empower your lawyer to act as your advocate and navigate the complexities of the situation on your behalf. This can significantly increase your chances of achieving a favorable outcome. 

Understand that anything you say can be used against you in court. This principle is fundamental to avoiding self-incrimination while dealing with law enforcement during a crime investigation.

Always Collect and Preserve Evidence

Keeping evidence secure is essential for proving innocence or mitigating circumstances related to the crime charged against you or someone close, such as family members inadvertently involved in the situation. 

Document all interactions and events connected to your case meticulously. Tell your lawyer immediately about any potential evidence that could support your defense strategy.

Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Male lawyer discussing negotiation legal case with client meetinChoose a criminal defense lawyer who has a solid track record of handling similar cases to yours. This ensures they are familiar with the nuances and potential defenses applicable to your situation.

And when it comes to experience, the Ikerd Law Firm has it. 

The Ikerd Law Firm is a full-service criminal defense and personal injury law firm representing those wrongfully accused and injured throughout South Louisiana and Texas. Get a free consultation today

An attorney’s approach to communication and strategy should align with your needs and expectations. 

Assess how they plan to defend you, their responsiveness, and their ability to explain complex legal concepts in simple terms. A good lawyer doesn’t just fight; they guide you through every step of the process.

Hiring an attorney as soon as possible after being charged can significantly impact the outcome of your case. 

Early legal advice can prevent costly mistakes that could jeopardize your defense later on. For instance, what you say or do before hiring an attorney can be used against you.

Prompt action also plays a vital role in evidence preservation. Your lawyer may need time to gather witness statements or surveillance footage before it is too late. 

The sooner you engage a defense attorney, the better equipped they are to build a strong case on your behalf.

Full Disclosure

To effectively defend you, your attorney needs all relevant information related to your case, no matter how minor or incriminating it might seem at first glance. Withholding information from your lawyer could hinder their ability to develop a comprehensive defense strategy.

Remember that attorneys are bound by confidentiality obligations not to disclose what you tell them without permission; trust that this process fully benefits only when there’s complete transparency between both parties.

Understand, too, that there are times when your attorney may not want to know everything. An attorney cannot support perjury, so if you confide something to your attorney, they cannot later call you to testify, knowing you are going to say a different thing under oath. Each case, attorney, and client is different, so discuss this issue with your attorney upfront.

Avoid Posting Your Case on Social Media

Many people overlook the impact of their online behavior when facing criminal charges. Refrain from discussing your case on any social media platform.

Online posts can easily become evidence in court. Prosecutors might use what you share against you. Consider what you post carefully. 

Think about the potential implications before hitting “post”. Adjusting privacy settings does not guarantee protection, as these settings often change and are not foolproof.

Moreover, something as simple as checking into locations or posting pictures can inadvertently provide information about your whereabouts or activities that could harm your case. 

Always pause and reflect on the possible consequences of sharing any content related to your life during this period.

Limiting Details Sharing

Limit discussions about your case details strictly to your legal team. They are there to guide and protect you through this process. 

Avoid sharing sensitive or specific information with friends or family members, no matter how much they care for you or want to help.

Remember, conversations with others outside of your legal team could be subpoenaed by prosecutors if found relevant to the case at hand. This includes casual chats that may seem harmless at the moment but could later complicate matters significantly.

  • Do talk openly with your lawyer.
  • Don’t discuss case specifics with anyone else without consulting them first.

This approach helps ensure that all communications regarding the case are properly managed and protected under attorney-client privilege—a critical element in safeguarding yourself legally during such challenging times.

Compliance with Legal Processes

Court Orders Adherence

Clients come to seek advice for the law regarding privacy violatFollowing court orders is crucial when facing criminal charges. This includes bail conditions and any restraining orders issued against you. Ignoring these can lead to serious consequences.

If you are granted bail, it means the court trusts you to follow specific rules until your trial. Breaking these rules can result in additional charges or even jail time. For example, if a condition of your bail is not to contact a certain person, doing so could get you arrested again.

Sometimes, misunderstandings occur. Maybe you did not fully grasp the restrictions placed on you. In such cases, report any issues to your attorney immediately. 

Plea Bargain Consideration

A plea bargain might seem like an easy way out of a complex situation. However, it’s important to weigh its pros and cons carefully.

  • Pros:
    • Potentially reduced sentence
    • Less uncertainty about the outcome
  • Cons:
    • A guilty plea will be on your record
    • Possible unforeseen long-term implications

Be Always Prepared to Participate in a Trial

Being aware of possible sentencing outcomes if convicted is the first step. These can range from fines and community service to incarceration. 

The impact on your life doesn’t end with sentencing. Consider how a conviction might affect your employment opportunities, housing options, and personal relationships.

Evaluating the likelihood of acquittal versus conviction requires understanding the evidence against you and legal precedents. This assessment helps in making informed decisions about plea bargains or going to trial.

Tell the Truth

Be Honest with Your Attorney

Provide accurate and complete information about your case. Remember, misleading your lawyer only harms your defense strategy. 

If you “make something up,” that fact only exists in your mind and not in the memories of witnesses or victims and will not likely match up with other physical evidence. 

If you tell your attorney a lie, they may believe you, which can have negative consequences, such as the prosecutor not finding them trustworthy when you end up wanting to work out a deal later. 

It may also cause the attorney to misjudge the strength of the state’s case, which could lead to them recommending going to trial when a trial really is not in your best interest.

Trust in attorney-client privilege ensures that what you discuss remains confidential. This privilege encourages openness without fear of repercussions outside the attorney-client relationship.

Truthfulness in Court

If you take the stand or speak in court, always be truthful. Understand that perjury—lying under oath—is a serious offense carrying its own penalties. Consistency between statements boosts credibility before judges or juries.

Avoid These Mistakes…and Get Help from a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Criminal defense lawyers are there to advocate for your rights and protect your interests. By avoiding the mistakes outlined above and actively seeking legal representation, you empower yourself to face legal challenges with confidence and potentially secure a more favorable outcome. 

You have a lot of choices when hiring a criminal justice defense attorney. 

At the Ikerd Law Firm, Chad Ikerd and our team would like the opportunity to speak with you to see if our approach is a good fit for you and your future.