7 Mistakes to Avoid in a Houston Criminal Case
When the police accuse someone of a crime, it is common for the person to feel the need to defend him/herself immediately. Unfortunately, this feeling of urgency can cause the individual to make mistakes that do more harm than good to the case. In many situations, people who attempt to clear their names accidentally give authorities additional evidence against them, without realizing the negative impact it will have on their cases.
If police in Houston have charged you with a crime, you have the right to a fair trial. It is important to know what to avoid to protect yourself and shield your rights as a citizen. If, in the future, police charge you with any type of crime, avoid the following seven mistakes to give your case its best chance at a fair criminal trial and seek a Houston criminal defense lawyer immediately.
Not Asking for an Attorney ASAP
The first and most important step to take if police charge you with a crime is to request an attorney immediately. The law does not obligate you to speak to police without an attorney present. There is no need to feel as if you must give authorities any information before an attorney arrives. Asking for an attorney is the best way to reduce the chances of accidentally divulging incriminating information. The opportunity to speak with someone who understands how the legal system works and who knows how authorities can use your words against you can significantly help your situation.
Giving Away Evidence
After a police officer accuses you of a crime in Houston, do not volunteer any evidence until you have spoken with an attorney. Police often do not have the right to request evidence or information from you upon initial arrest. The most common ways people volunteer evidence that later hurts their cases are as follows:
- Permitting authorities to search and seize property and/or belongings without a warrant.
- Giving samples such as fingerprints or bodily fluids without a court order.
- Giving a statement to police without first consulting an attorney.
Lawmakers crafted the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution specifically to protect everyone in the country from unlawful search and seizure. Without a warrant, police cannot search your car or your home, and they cannot seize your property or request any DNA samples without proper warrants. Be polite to police officers, but refrain from answering any questions or releasing statements until you talk to an attorney.
Although it is normal to have the urge to flee when authorities are arresting you or charging you with a crime, running away or battling with police officers can harm your case. Under some circumstances, trying to escape arrest may even result in injuries and additional charges. The best way to protect yourself is to comply with the police, do not resist arrest, and politely decline to answer any questions until you have a lawyer present.
Tampering with a Witness
No matter how honorable your intentions, talking with the person who filed a complaint against you or accused you of a crime increases the risk of receiving the additional charge of witness tampering. In many cases, the witness or victim cannot retract witness tampering charges. Once a complaint becomes “pending,” the prosecutor decides how to proceed. Even if the witness decides not to move forward, the prosecutor can pursue charges against you anyway.
Going to Trial Without an Attorney
Going to a criminal trial without an attorney can have serious consequences. The potential risks for the defendant (or the accused) range from receiving a prison sentence to suffering financial losses from extensive restitution fees or fines. Though it may be tempting to “save money” by representing yourself, a conviction on your record can end up costing you far more in the long run than hiring a criminal attorney would have from the beginning.
To defend your rights to the best of his or her ability, a criminal defense attorney must have all the facts regarding your case. When you first meet with your lawyer, divulge all the information you know, including the parts you believe are irrelevant or incriminating. Tell your attorney everything you know right away to help him or her determine how to represent you, protect your best interests, and choose what strategy is right for you.
Sharing Information on Social Media
People facing criminal charges should abstain from all forms of social media. Posting anything, even something seemingly unrelated to the arrest or crime, can be incriminating. The prosecution can use your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other profile to obtain information about your life. They can use your pictures, comments, and anything else they find as evidence against you in the case.
Do not write, type, or print any information about your case on your phone, computer, or even on paper. Do not communicate with your friends and family through text messaging, email, or social media. There is simply no way to know where these records will end up. It is crucial to reduce the chances of any sensitive information ending up in the wrong hands and potentially damaging your case. When in doubt about what not to do after an arrest, talk to a Houston criminal defense attorney.