While you might think that there is no way you will ever get arrested, you must remember that plenty of innocent people have been falsely accused of crimes merely because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. After a turn of events, you might find that you have been accused of a crime you didn’t commit, and at this point, what you do next is of utmost importance. If you want to save your reputation (and in some cases, your freedom), you’ll need to take a few precise steps to promote the best outcome. Take a look at five of the first things you’ll want to do if you’ve been falsely accused:
Of course you have the right to remain silent, but that doesn’t involve zipping your mouth completely shut. Deny committing the crime both before and after your rights are read to you. Deny it in writing and on video tape if possible. The prosecution must produce those denials in the future. Exercise your Miranda rights, and say nothing more.
Work on Getting Out of Custody
You’ll be allowed a few phone calls after being taken into custody. Call a family member and ask them to go to a bail bond agent to get you released. Ordinarily you’ll be released in hours. If you’re in a non-bail bondsman state, you’ll appear before a judge for a bond hearing. Request a recognizance bond where no money is required to be posted. If the judge requires a cash bond, ask for three phone calls to raise the money.
Seek Legal Counsel
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution confers the right to assistance of counsel for the accused in any criminal prosecution. That also means that if you can’t afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you by the court. Court-appointed attorneys are generally highly experienced and conscientious professionals. Barring a conflict of interest, you have the right to retain any attorney licensed in your state to represent you.
Cooperate With Your Attorney
Upon retaining counsel, it is in your highest and best interests to cooperate with your attorney. According to a criminal defense attorney, you have a better chance of winning your case if you are open and cooperative with your lawyer. That means providing them with any and all information they need, whether you feel it’s relevant or not. That also means telling your attorney 100 percent of the truth and nothing less. You want to prove your innocence, and so does your attorney.
Persist in Your “Not Guilty” Plea
The prosecution has the burden of proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s a difficult burden. They might know that they can’t prove their case and ask the court to dismiss all charges. If not, persist in that not guilty plea through a jury trial.
These are fundamental basic rights that every person has if they’re arrested anywhere in the United States. While it can be overwhelming to be accused of a crime you didn’t commit, especially if you aren’t familiar with the law, the worst thing you can do is to not take any action. Follow the steps above, and be sure to enlist help from any resource possible in your endeavor to prove your innocence.
This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write for business, finance, and family issues. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters.