1. Volunteering Evidence
It’s natural to feel the urge to “clear your name” if you’ve been accused of a crime. This feeling causes people to make a number of mistakes that, instead of helping prove innocence, actually just give the police and prosecutors evidence against them.
The following should be avoided when you’ve been accused of or charged with a crime:
- Allowing search or seizure of your property without a warrant.
- Making a statement to police without speaking to an attorney.
- Giving samples of body fluids, handwriting, fingerprints or clothing without a court order.
Everyone is protected from unreasonable search and seizure by the constitutions of both Texas and the U.S. This means that without a warrant, the police cannot search your home or car; they cannot take your property (including your cell phone); they cannot draw blood.
You are also not required to speak to police or answer questions without an attorney present. Houston criminal defense attorneys strongly recommend being polite when dealing with police, but do not answer questions and simply request to speak with your attorney.
Attempting to resist or escape being arrested is never a good idea. Trying to run away or fight the police can quickly lead to injury and additional charges. The best thing you can do it politely comply with police and request a lawyer be present.
Another common mistake of people charged with a criminal offense is trying to clear up matters with the complaining witness. Unfortunately, no matter how good your intentions are, speaking with the person who filed a complaint to try to get them to drop the charges can result in a charge of witness tampering.
In many cases, the continue with a charge is also already out of the witness’ hands. Once the complaint is pending, it is the prosecutor who decides to move forward, sometimes even if the crime “victim” decides they don’t want to proceed.
Not Getting An Attorney
Requesting an attorney right away is the best possible step you can take in a criminal case, and going to court without an experienced criminal defense lawyer is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. The Texas criminal justice system is complex and always changing. It’s important to have a professional represent your interests.
A criminal conviction can affect many areas of your life. You can lose your freedom if you’re sentenced to jail or prison time; you can suffer long-term financial consequences of fines and restitution payments; and you may have difficulty finding a job and housing with a conviction on your record. Saving some money by representing yourself can cost you far more than hiring an attorney will.
Hiding Information From Your Attorney
It is a criminal defense attorney’s job to fight vigorously for their clients’ rights. To do so, your attorney must have all the facts. Your attorney needs to know everything that you think is relevant and everything that you don’t think is relevant. Tell the whole story, from the very first meeting with your lawyer. Doing so will allow your attorney to represent your interests to the best of his or her ability.
Sharing On Social Media
It’s commonplace today for people to share many details of their lives on social media sites. This is another mistake that can cost you big in a criminal case. The prosecution may use your Facebook, Twitter or other social media pages to gather details about your life and try to use your photos, posts and comments against you in a trial.
The best way to avoid these digital pitfalls is to not communicate with friends and family through Facebook, email, text message or any other digital or print medium. Don’t put anything related to your case on paper, don’t type it on a computer, phone or tablet. You just never know where that communication will go, who will see it, and who it will be interpreted.
If you’ve been accused of or charged with a crime, Houston criminal lawyer Lisa Shapiro Strauss can help. Contact her today for a consultation and get help protecting your legal rights.