There are tons of shows out there that depict the legal system, but the problem is that even good writers still need to be concerned with ratings and that often results in inaccuracies being spread. Unfortunately, when certain myths have been spread enough, the general public starts to accept them as true. Here’s your chance to have a Solana Beach defense attorney look at some widely accepted myths and the realities behind them.
If You Ask Someone if They Are a Cop, Do They Have to Tell You?
Could you imagine a world where this were true? Any time a criminal considered planning anything illegal they’d just have to ask if everyone involved was a police officer or not. It would be completely impossible for police to do any undercover work at all. In fact, police can not only lie while undercover, they are actually permitted to violate the law if it is necessary in order to maintain their cover -again, otherwise criminals could just ask everyone to violate a minor law in order to figure out if someone was a cop or not.
Is The Best Way to Avoid a Sure-Fire Guilty Verdict to Plead Insanity?
Some tv shows will even show the guilty criminal walking away from the courthouse as free as a bird after pleading insanity, but letting people get away with crimes simply because they are mentally unstable would be nothing but a great way to fill the streets with the criminally insane. As we’ve previously discussed, the insanity defense is very real, but it is actually used in less than 1% of all criminal cases because it is so rarely successful. Even when it does work, the defendant still usually has to go to a mental health facility and because the release date for those people is then decided by their psychologists, they usually spend more time in the mental health facility than they would have behind bars had they not plead insanity.
Will Your Case be Dismissed If No One Read You Your Miranda Rights?
On television, everyone who gets arrested is automatically read their Miranda Rights and if they aren’t their lawyers are eagerly waiting to get the whole case thrown out based solely on that fact. In actuality though, Miranda Rights apply to forced interrogations, not arrests. In fact, if police do not question you after arresting you, there is no reason for them to Mirandize you. If they aren’t arresting you, they can ask you whatever they want without reading you your Miranda Rights. That’s why if police start to casually ask you questions, you should refuse to answer and then always ask if you are under arrest or if you are free to leave. If they say you are under arrest, then ask to speak to your Solana Beach defense lawyer immediately.
In DUI stops, the police commonly ask questions about the driver’s drinking. These questions are considered “investigatory” and therefore not subject to Miranda warnings. Miranda warnings are only required for questioning following an arrest. So when questions are asked pre-arrest, or if the police do not ask questions following an arrest, there is no need for Miranda warnings.
Even if police interrogated you while under arrest without having read you your Miranda Rights though, your criminal attorney in Mira Mesa would still most likely not be able to get your case thrown out of court but instead only have any statements you made during that interrogation be withheld from the trial.
If You Don’t Cooperate With the Police, Can You be Charged With Obstruction of Justice?
This particular myth is so pervasive, we actually wrote a whole article about it. The bottom line is that you are never legally required to answer police questions extending beyond those involving your identity. If the police try to question you, even as a potential witness, always refuse to answer their questions until you have a Carmel Valley criminal defense lawyer present.
On the other hand, it is important to never lie to the police. Obstruction of justice charges are used against those who actually get in the way of an investigation, not just those who refuse to assist in the investigation. Lying can actually be considered a form of obstruction of justice if the lie could make it more difficult for the officers to solve a crime.
When You’re Arrested, You Get One Phone Call, Right?
It sounds cool on TV to talk about someone’s “one phone call,” but in reality, police will generally let you make multiple phone calls to put your affairs in order if you have been arrested. You should obviously use one of these calls to contact your defense attorney, but other calls can be to friends or family members in order to arrange bail, say you won’t be coming home, even to make sure someone takes care of your pets while you are detained.
It’s worth noting though that this is not a guaranteed right under the Constitution, nor are the calls provided at a certain time during your arrest. In some cases, the police will not let you make a call until after you have been processed, in other cases they wait until you’re being questioned and demand a lawyer, sometimes you may be able to make a call as soon as you are brought in. If you have an emergency situation, like needing to pick a child up from school or providing someone with medication, you can generally inform the arresting officers of your situation and they will usually allow you to make any necessary calls to ensure the problem is taken care of. In many cases, it can help to inform the officers that you want to speak to your lawyer as soon as you are arrested.
Are Forensics An Accurate Way to Solve Crimes?
There are so many myths about forensics that we’ve actually already featured an article based solely on busting those misconceptions. While we urge you to read the whole article, the biggest takeaways are that forensic science isn’t foolproof, fingerprints are a problematic form of identification and forensics can help the defense just as much as it can help the prosecution.
If you have been arrested for any crime or if you have any questions about the legal realities of something you may have been on TV, Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image by Tomas Del Coro