Hopefully, you’ll never be arrested and charged with a crime you didn’t commit.
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But what if you are? How do you go about clearing your name after being accused of a crime you didn’t commit?
Here are some words of advice from leading Houston criminal defense attorney Lisa Shapiro Strauss:
Being convicted of a misdemeanor or felony in Houston could result in fines, jail time, and/or probation. In addition, the conviction will permanently appear on your public record, which could really complicate your life, making it hard to land a job, get a place to live, qualify for a loan, etc.
However, being charged with a crime isn’t the same as being convicted. If you’ve been arrested and charged with any crime, whether you are guilty or not, there are important steps to take immediately following your arrest to protect your rights.
Do What You Can to Help Your Case
Don’t make any statements. You have a right to be silent. Anything you say to a police officer or other law enforcement official after your arrest really can be used against you later on. You don’t have to be rude to law enforcement, simply tell them that you would prefer to speak with a lawyer before making any statements. Refrain from talking about your case with friends, family or co-workers. And DO NOT post about your case on social media.
If possible, gather any evidence that could prove your innocence and get the names of any witnesses that could prove helpful to your case.
Ask to see a warrant. If you were arrested pursuant to a search warrant, you’re entitled to review it.
Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Being innocent of a charge may not be enough to avoid a conviction. Your attorney will be able to review the circumstances surrounding your arrest and assess the charges against you.
If you were charged with a crime you didn’t commit, these actions won’t help your case:
- Confronting your accusers
- Destroying evidence that might make you look bad
- Talking to law enforcement without having a lawyer present
- Submitting to DNA or any other kind of testing without consulting your lawyer first
Answers to your Questions About Criminal Charges
Is There a List of Common Legal Terms I Can Reference?
Look no further! Here is an incomplete list, and there are more at the link below.
• Arraignment: A defendant’s first appearance in court to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
• Burden: The legal obligation by the prosecution to prove their case.
• Felony: A serious crime punishable by confinement in prison or even the death penalty in the most extreme cases.
• Grand Jury: A special type of jury assembled to determine whether criminal charges should be brought against a defendant.
• Misdemeanor: Offenses punishable by fines not exceeding $4,000 or jail terms not exceeding 12 months or a combination of the two.
• Plea: Statement made by the defendant declaring his guilt or innocence: guilty, not guilty or no contest.
• Witness: A person who testifies under oath as to what they saw, heard or did.
Are There Any Common Mistakes to Avoid in Criminal Cases?
There are many mistakes commonly made by people who are accused of crimes. A few are:
• Volunteering Evidence, in an effort to clear your name
• Resisting Arrest
• Trying to convince someone to drop charges against you, which could be considered witness tampering.
What is the Statute of Limitations on Criminal Charges?
The statute of limitations is the formal time a prosecutor has to bring charges against someone for a crime. In most situations, if that time has passed, no charges can be brought against you. The limits can vary, depending on the crime committed. Some examples:
• 10 years: Theft by a public servant of government property; forgery
• 7 years: Money laundering; credit card abuse; Medicaid fraud.
• 5 years: Other types of theft
There are crimes with no statute of limitations, like murder, manslaughter, and human trafficking.
Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Lisa Shapiro Strauss is On Your Side
If you’ve been charged with a crime you didn’t commit, you’ll need a defense attorney with the expertise and dedication to prove your innocence. Lisa Shapiro Strauss is a former county prosecutor turned criminal defense attorney who has helped many clients who have been charged with a crime they didn’t commit.
Lisa knows that you have to be found guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt in order to be convicted of a crime. Just getting a single juror to consider the fact that you may be innocent of the charges is all it would take to get an acquittal in your case. Call the law offices of Houston criminal defense attorney Lisa Shapiro Strauss to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case and your options moving forward.