It seems counter to the foundations of the American Constitution for someone to be punished for a crime they were never convicted of, but it happens every day. In fact, just being accused of a crime could result in your serving time in jail or prison. That’s why it’s so important to always work with a San Diego criminal lawyer when you have been accused of any crime.
The most common and obvious reason people end up being punished for crimes they are not convicted of is that they were simply denied bail and forced to spend time in jail. While most people are tried within a few months of their arrest, sometimes circumstances extend that period and if a defendant is held in custody for that time, it’s as though they are being punished for a crime they have not yet been found guilty of. In one shocking example in New York, a sixteen year old was sent to jail to await trial for stealing a backpack and ended up spending three years in jail without ever being tried for his crime. Few cases are as extreme as that one, but even so, spending months in jail can leave you behind in your bills and fired from your job. Many defendants who are found innocent after being held in jail actually sue the government for financial damages related to their experience. It is always better to avoid this situation in advance though and the best way you can do this is to always work with a San Diego criminal attorney when you are arrested. Your lawyer can help fight to ensure you receive a fair, affordable bail or that you are released on your own recognizance instead of spending time behind bars.
Unfortunately, serving time as you wait to be tried is only one way you can be punished for a crime you aren’t convicted for. Even if you are acquitted of a crime, the court can find you violated your existing probation from the same conduct and sentence you for that. Crimes you were acquitted of may also be used in future trials to show you committed similar crimes or have a propensity to commit them. A judge may also sentence you harshly for only one conviction of many charges for which you were acquitted by a jury. If your record was expunged, the judge will still have access to it unless you were a juvenile at the time and have since had the record sealed. This is one of the many reasons it is advisable for everyone who committed a crime as a juvenile to have their record sealed with the help of a San Diego juvenile lawyer as soon as possible.
Working with a top San Diego defense attorney as soon as you suspect you are being charged with a crime is the best way to protect yourself from being punished for a crime you are not convicted of. Peter M. Liss can help negotiate your bail, minimize charges against you, protect you from illegal searches and in some cases, even get charges against you dropped, all of which can ensure you don’t serve time for something you didn’t do. If you have been accused of a crime, please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image by Alper Cugun