Wrongful convictions occur every year in the United States at staggering rates. Last year, a total of 166 people were exonerated for crimes they didn't commit, setting a record for the most people absolved in a year's time, according to data collected by the National Registry of Exonerations. As disconcerting as this number is, it merely reflects the wrongful convictions the criminal justice system was able to discover. Many more innocent people are likely serving unjust sentences or living with the legal disabilities that inherently accompany a criminal record today due to these far too common miscarriages of justice.
If you have been falsely charged of an offense, it is important you take action immediately. Naively assuming that law enforcement, a judge or a jury will eventually discover your innocence is a dangerous response to false accusations and charges, and can potentially lead to a disastrous outcome.
The following advice is helpful for those who have been charged with a crime they did not commit:
Do not say anything to the police
Take advantage of your right to remain silent. Although police officers are only required to remind you of this right when you are in custody, it is applicable in all encounters with law enforcement.
Many people believe the misconception that remaining silent during an arrest is incriminating behavior, but this couldn't be further from the truth. By refusing to answer a police officer's questions or by fighting the urge to blurt out information, you are avoiding misunderstandings. You also aren't giving authorities the chance to bully you into saying something you don't mean. Everything you say in the presence of an officer is regarded as factual information, and in the event that these “facts” are proven to be incorrect, you will be perceived as a liar. Just as the Miranda Warning plainly asserts, anything you say can and will be used against you.
Immediately contact an attorney
With so much at stake, you can't afford to skip out on retaining a lawyer. Once the police begin to hound you about a crime, you need the advice of a legal professional. An attorney will speak with the police on your behalf and gauge whether it's best to continue with questioning or release a statement. A lawyer can also get a private investigator to retrace the steps of a legal investigation while searching for evidence of your innocence. The soon you retain a legal professional - while the arrest is fresh and you can remember still remember minor details - the higher the likelihood of you being exonerated.
North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you have been charged with a crime you didn't commit, you don't have to go through this ordeal alone. You need the assistance of a skilled attorney who is dedicated to protecting your rights. Contact the attorneys at Caulder & Valentine today for a free consultation.