In Part I of the series we discussed who would most likely become a victim of a false accusation and what to do if it happens. Additionally, for an expected positive outcome, we offered crucial information that could impact the outcome of the case.
In Part II we will suggest steps to take if the case goes to trial, if the person is wrongfully convicted and sent to prison, and how to be prepared.
How to prepare for trial
If the advice in Part I was taken, the person falsely arrested has hired a criminal defense attorney experienced in wrongful convictions, and, in turn, the attorney has hired a reputable private investigator. This is the team that will work closely with the accused who must be honest, forthcoming and trust in the team’s knowledge and skills.
- In some cases, the person arrested and charged with a crime may be out on bail. This isn’t the time to talk to family and friends about the crime, or the case. Everything said could potentially be used by the prosecution during trial. It’s best to keep conversations between the accused and the legal team.
- Pull together all tangible evidence. This would include receipts, cell phone and text records, perhaps even surveillance tape from a location like a store or bank. Any documentation is critical to prove whereabouts during the time of the crime. Create a timeline of everything that happened before and after the crime occurred.
- Make a list of every possible witness. The list should include all known details about anyone coming in contact with the accused during the timeline of events and should be turned over to the attorney and investigators.
- Never turn over anything to police without the consent or presence of the attorney.
- Avoid the media and press. If this is a high-profile crime, the media will be covering all aspects of it. Interviews or commentary should be avoided and a sense of calm should be practiced, even if members of the media get rude or question in public. Do not respond.
- Dress professionally for court. Check hair, makeup, shave, jewelry, posture and be sure to look neat and polished. Confidence of innocence, not cockiness, must be shown at all times while in court. Respect for the judge, jury and other participants is imperative. Listen to testimony and if there are questions or comments, take notes and pass discreetly to the attorney.
A verdict of guilty
A guilty verdict is not the expected outcome for someone who knows they are innocent. However, the criminal justice system allows for a series of appeals for convictions. It’s vital at this point to hire an appellate attorney and private investigator with experience in wrongful convictions.
It’s never a good idea to file post-conviction motions or appeals Pro se, or on your own behalf, rather than being represented by an attorney. An appellate attorney will know the portion of the law that applies to specific case as well as the appeals process.
Appeals should be filed with the court as quickly as possible. All facts, evidence and witnesses need to be provided to the attorney to support the claim on which the appeal is based.
The best outcome would be an exoneration, expungement of a criminal record, and the ability to go back to family and friends and resume living. Nevertheless, results will vary, but proper preparation, with the support of other exonerees and advocates, can make the transition more successful.
By following the steps explained in Parts I & II of this series, our hope is that everyone is better informed and true justice is served more often.
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