There are few feelings worse in this life than the feeling of being falsely accused of a crime you didn’t commit. An arrest can wreck your life even before you’re convicted of any crime, and there’s a very real threat that you’ll face a conviction.
Innocence alone will not save you.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to maximize your chances of bringing the case to a good outcome.
Retain Your Right to Remain Silent
Innocent people tend to be tempted to speak up in police interrogation rooms, holding out the hope that they’ll be released if they can only make the police understand they are innocent.
It won’t work. All you will do is hand the prosecution information they can use to craft a theory of the crime against you. Stay silent and ask for a lawyer. The police will never release you based on anything you said.
Secure Pre-Trial Release, if Possible
Studies have shown that people who are detained for longer periods of time are 13% to 24% (depending on the study) more likely to be convicted than those who successfully obtain pretrial release.
People who have no prior criminal record benefit the most from pretrial release, but the statistics hold regardless.
A study of 381,000 misdemeanor cases filed in Harris County found that people who were unable to pay bail within seven days of their bail hearing were 25% more likely to be convicted.
- Those who remain in jail get worse plea bargain options and are leveraged to take them.
- Those who remain in jail have more ability to meet with their defense counsel and assist in preparing a defense case.
- Those who remain in jail have fewer resources to fight their conviction.
- Those who remain in jail can’t attend programs that increase the likelihood of acquittal, dismissal, or diversion.
Call a bail bondsman, call in favors, and work with your lawyer to find reasons to argue your bail lower. Do whatever you can. Be sure to meet the conditions of your release, whatever they may be, and make all your court dates.
Avoid Contacting Victims
Contacting victims can easily be seen as attempting to intimidate or influence victims or witnesses.
The entire matter is out of the alleged victim’s hands anyway. Nobody is going to laugh off the incident and send you home just because the victim says they’re convinced you didn’t do it now.
The idea that a victim can just drop charges is a myth. Only the DA or a judge may drop or dismiss charges.
Gather as Much Evidence As You Can
Evidence can vary, but can include:
- Receipts, appointment books, and a list of public locations visited that can reconstruct your physical location at various times when the crime might have been committed.
- Lists of potential witnesses, with names, numbers, addresses, and emails. You should not attempt to contact these individuals yourself; let your lawyer do that. Just generate a list of people who can vouch for your whereabouts and potential innocence.
- Financial documents, text messages, emails, surveillance footage, or physical evidence that can corroborate your version of events.
- Anything else your attorney asks you to gather.
Your attorney will work to uncover and gather evidence too, but the more you can help your attorney find evidence, the better off you’ll be.
Contact a Lawyer ASAP
The public defender system is a mess in Texas. Even if you don’t make a lot of money, you should try to secure a private lawyer if you can. Many private criminal lawyers will work with you to make your defense affordable.
Without a private lawyer, your chances of becoming one of the 3,000 to 9,000 Texans serving sentences for crimes they did not commit is very high.
In trouble? Get help. Contact our office to schedule a case review today.
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