People generally assume that they would never be accused or arrested for a crime they didn’t commit, however, wrongful convictions have happened at an alarming rate and thousands are behind bars today because of circumstances they believed were beyond their control.
In Part I of this series we will examine who has the highest probability of being falsely accused and what important steps to take if it happens.
Who is most likely to be a victim of false accusations?
Studies show a large percentage of those wrongfully accused are classified as minorities from lower socio economic communities . Additionally, race and racism are frequent factors which may influence the probability of being accused or arrested on unfounded charges.
A previous criminal history can have a negative impact when facing false accusations or arrest. It’s easier to assume that if an individual has a previous arrest record, they have the potential to commit further, more serious, crimes. This is common when police or prosecutors are exhibiting unethical behavior and misconduct in a rush to judgement rather than a search for the truth.
Discriminatory practices were never intended to be a part of our justice system, and when a person’s rights are violated it destroys the protection of everyone’s rights.
What to do if falsely arrested?
When the unexpected occurs, like being arrested, it’s a source of confusion and a time when mistakes are made which can affect the life and future of the individual. It’s an advantage to be informed of useful practices for the best possible outcome.
- The first priority if falsely arrested is to hire a reputable criminal defense attorney, preferably one who has experience in wrongful convictions. A law firm with an understanding of wrongful convictions can assess the evidence of the case and appropriately advise the client.
- Exercise the right to remain silent no matter how coercive, or how friendly, the arresting officer may be. It’s natural to expect that being cooperative with police and offering information will lead to being released quickly. Arrests frequently go down before there’s time to consult with, or hire, an attorney, but it’s vital to the case to remain silent until an attorney is present.
- Never allow police to search property without a warrant. A warrant will document exactly what police are looking for as evidence, and they must follow the rules set forth while conducting a search. It also preserves the integrity of evidence of innocence if the case goes to court.
- Create detailed documentation of every aspect of the case for the attorney. An alibi must be established with corroborating evidence, and, if possible, witnesses who can verify. The attorney’s investigators can then collect sworn statements and/or interviews.
- Avoid a plea bargain. In order to ease the burden of the criminal justice system, plea bargains are offered to allow defendants to plead guilty to a lesser charge, have the more serious charge dismissed, and agree to a reduced prison term. Accepting a plea bargain will mean the defendant will face the future with a criminal record and the possibility of imposed conditions.
If necessary, at this point, the law firm should hire a reliable private investigator. It’s essential that the private investigator be hired by the attorney, not the accused or their family.
When an attorney hires a private investigator, the investigator becomes part of the legal staff and written reports containing their opinions, theories and conclusions are considered “Attorney work product” which is protected under attorney/client privilege.
In criminal defense cases it’s imperative to detail the backgrounds of all key players. A private investigator will go far beyond a cursory background check and dig deep into each person, their affiliations and prior statements.
In Part II we will discuss how to prepare for trial and appeals if all measures have been taken and failed to secure a release. Read Part II HERE
Management Resources Ltd of New York is a professional investigative firm licensed in New York and New Jersey, members of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Associated Licensed Detectives of New York, and Founding Members and Regional Directors of Investigating Innocence.
Bob Rahn and Kim Anklin are available for interviews or speaking engagements. Contact ImaginePublicity at 843-808-08509 or email firstname.lastname@example.org