If you have been taken into custody, the only person who you want or need to talk to is your criminal lawyer. Otherwise, you are under no obligation to say anything to the police or to anyone who may be looking for evidence that may establish your role in a crime. Why is it so important that you know your rights when facing potential criminal penalties?
Anything You Say or Do Could Be Used Against You
As a general rule, anything that you say or do after you have been taken into custody can be used to establish your guilt in court. For instance, if you admit that you just took an illegal drug or try to evade capture by police, it could be presented to a jury as a reason to convict you.
In some cases, a police officer or a prosecutor may agree to go easy on you if you tell the truth. However, there is no guarantee that will happen, and it could simply be a way to get you to let your guard down and make it easier for authorities to get the conviction that they want.
Nothing You Say to a Lawyer Will Be Used Against You
Anything that you tell your criminal defence lawyer is privileged information that stays between you and legal counsel. This is important because it allows you to tell your lawyer exactly what happened before, during or after you were taken into custody. The more information that your attorney has, the more likely it is that he or she can construct a defense to the charge or charges that you face.
You May Have the Right to Act As Your Own Lawyer
It is possible that you may be able to act as your own lawyer. This may allow you to question your accuser directly or question directly the officer who took you into custody. Through the course of questioning, it may be possible to establish that information contained in a police report was a lie or misleading or pursue any other strategy that you feel could help you win an acquittal. You may also be able to pursue a plea bargain on your own behalf.
In some cases, you may be allowed to represent yourself while having a legal representative help you. This person will ensure that you don’t make easy mistakes that could be grounds for an appeal after a verdict is reached.
Just because you have been charged with a crime doesn’t mean that you are guilty of that crime. However, the outcome of your case could hinge on whether or not you know your rights and how to protect yourself from unlawful questioning or seizure of property that could be used as evidence against you.