5 Dumb Moves to Avoid When You’re Facing Criminal Charges in NYC

5 Dumb Moves to Avoid When You’re Facing Criminal Charges in NYC

From the moment you are arrested and charged with a crime, your position becomes precarious. Even small missteps can weaken your chances of making it through this event without serious, life-changing consequences.

Education is the best defense. Memorize these points, even if you’re not being accused of a crime right now. And if you have a loved one who is being charged with a crime right now, be sure to direct him or her to this blog post. Sure, they might have already made some of these mistakes, but it’s never too late to avoid making more mistakes.

Trying to convince the police you’re innocent.

When you do this you’re playing right into their hands.

Police use a method called the Reid Technique to interrogate arrestees. One of the central tenants of this method is attempting to convince the suspect they might have a shot of getting out of the arrest without going to court if they can just convince the police officers they’re innocent.

In reality, police lie to you to throw you off balance, turn even very innocuous pieces of information into evidence against you, and psychologically wear you down. They may even get you to make a false confession, something that usually seems inconceivable to people when they’re safe at home but is pretty common after 15 hours of verbal badgering.

See also: Falsely Accused? Know Your Options.

You are never, ever going to convince the police to let you go once they’ve arrested you. Once you’ve been arrested the cops either sincerely believe you’re their criminal, or they sincerely believe they can make a jury believe you’re their criminal. Either way, there is not a single thing you can say that will help.

Remember that Miranda warning? Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law? You have the right to remain silent?

Exercise your right. There is one thing you should say.  One thing only. “I want an attorney.”   The interview or attempted interrogation should end then and there. If, instead,  they continue to ask you questions, you should again say one thing. “I want an attorney”.  

Keep in mind if the police manage to lure you into talking after you invoke your right to an attorney, they can argue that you never asked for an attorney.  If the interview is not video or audio-taped, it becomes your word against theirs. So once you make your wishes clear, clamp your mouth shut and refuse to say another word until your attorney arrives.

Keep in mind the police might try to wear you down by refusing to let you call your attorney right away. Be patient. Eventually, you will get your chance.

See also: History of the Miranda Warning.

Talking to friends or family members about the case.

This can be very tempting.

You’re angry, so you want to vent.

You’re embarrassed, so you want to convince all your loved ones this is all just a big misunderstanding.

But talking to your friends and family members can be just as dangerous as talking to the police. If you’re talking to them in jail or in prison your conversations are being recorded and they can be used as evidence against you.

If you’re out on bail and talking to them across the kitchen table, they can be subpoenaed. The only person who can’t be compelled to testify against you is your spouse. Everyone else: your brother, your aunt, your cousin, your best friend, or even your hairdresser could end up being forced to discuss what you said to them on the stand.

And thanks to technology like Alexa or Google Home, every word you say could be recorded without you knowing it even in a private home.

Some communications are privileged: conversations with lawyers, medical personnel, and therapists. Even so, doctors and therapists can be compelled to share information about what you’ve said in some cases as well, so it’s important to stay circumspect.

Spouting off on social media.

Everything you say on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or anything else can be used against you in court. You definitely don’t want to spout off or protest your innocence on any social media platform.

If someone asks you something about the case on social media, at most you should say, “I’m not at liberty to talk about the case.”

Ideally? You’ll stay off social media altogether.

Failing to show up for court dates.

This is a great way to make your situation worse. It will result in a bench warrant and potentially a new criminal charge. If you’ve posted bail through a bail bondsman it could result in a bounty hunter showing up to haul you back to jail.

Go to court. There is nothing to be gained by failing to go to court. You cannot run far enough or fast enough to stay out of jail if you do not go to court. And once you’ve proven you will not show up at court you’re unlikely to ever get bail again, which means your chances of defending yourself against criminal charges while you are at liberty drop drastically.

Assuming any attorney is going to be enough to protect you.

Choose your attorney very carefully as they may stand between you and a lengthy prison sentence and or permanent criminal record.  

Make sure your attorney, whether private or a public defender, has experience in the crime you are charged with and understands the complex issues that might arise.  

If you are deciding between a private attorney and a public defender, consider whether the attorney has too large a caseload to give the time and focus to your case.    Keep in mind that when working with a public defender, you may have a very limited time to speak to them prior to your arraignment as they will not be assigned until your arrival to court.  

See also: Arraignment in New York: What to Expect.

No matter what you decide, you need to have faith in your attorney and believe that they are doing everything in their power to protect your interests.  When you hire an attorney, make sure you are getting someone who has the time and resources to contact potential alibi witnesses, investigate the facts of the case, spot inconsistencies in the state’s story, to stay on the state about turning over evidence, and to file pre-trial motions which can help you win.  The decision is yours alone to make.