Being accused of criminal wrongdoing can turn your world upside down. The threat of conviction can leave you reeling as you struggle to cope with the possibility of being hit with prison time and difficulty securing and holding employment and housing even after you’ve paid your debt to society.
Although it can be stressful to think about what could happen if you’re convicted, you should take some comfort knowing that you have criminal defense options at your disposal. One of them is to consider the police’s actions leading up to your arrest and whether they violated your rights or the integrity of the investigation. If they did, you might be able to suppress otherwise damaging evidence, which could lead to case dismissal or an acquittal.
Common mistakes made by the police
Some people think that the police are infallible, but this is far from the truth. Law enforcement officers make mistakes all the time. Making matters worse is that prosecutors then rely on those mistakes to bring criminal charges.
So, as you’re building your criminal defense, you should be on the lookout for these common police errors that could have a tremendous impact on your case:
- Chain of custody errors: When gathering and storing evidence, the police are supposed to follow proper protocols to ensure that evidence isn’t compromised. Yet, all too often, law enforcement officers mishandle evidence, thereby drawing its reliability into question.
- Failing to advise you of your Miranda rights: If you’re going to be subjected to custodial interrogation, the police should inform you of your rights, including your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney. If you’re not advised of these rights, any statements that you make shouldn’t be used against you.
- Failing to adequately preserve the crime scene: It can take a significant amount of time to process a crime scene. If the scene isn’t properly secured, it can be tainted by just about anyone. New fingerprints and DNA evidence can be left behind, existing evidence can be unintentionally destroyed or compromised or key evidence could be improperly removed from the scene. Any of these issues can negatively impact you and your case.
- Initiating an illegal search: Generally speaking, the police are supposed to secure a warrant before searching you, your vehicle or your home. However, there are a number of exceptions to the warrant requirement. Although these requirements are meant to provide some flexibility given the difficult circumstances that police officers often find themselves in, these exceptions are often misused. If that happens in your case, your rights have been violated and you might be able to suppress any illegally gathered evidence.
- Using excessive force: In too many cases, the police use excessive force. Sometimes this force is used to try to intimidate a suspect into confessing to the crime at issue. If you think that you’ve been subjected to excessive force, you’ll want to discuss that with your attorney to see if you can leverage that to your advantage in your criminal case.
Know how to aggressively protect your rights and your future
An improperly handled criminal defense can lead to conviction and a devastated future. You don’t want that to happen, which is why you need a strong criminal defense attorney on your side.
A competent defense attorney should be able to help you analyze the facts of your case so that you can make the informed decisions that you think are best for your case. With a zealous advocate on your side, you’ll hopefully be able to beat the prosecution and protect your future as much as possible.