Being accused of a crime you didn’t commit can be nerve-wracking. Suddenly, you find yourself being interrogated by police, booked into a jail cell, or appearing before a judge, all over something someone else did. You’re innocent, but that fact hasn’t stopped the accusation from turning your life upside-down.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you’ve been charged with a crime you know you didn’t commit, do you need a lawyer? Many people in this situation think the answer should be “no.” After all, if the police do their jobs, the evidence should prove you didn’t commit the crime, right?
In fact, innocent people need good criminal defense attorneys just as much – if not more – than people who actually did something wrong. Here’s why.
The Evidence Already Points To You
A few crimes, such as DUI, involve an arrest “on the spot.” Most crimes, however, are investigated well before an arrest is made. Police make the arrest based on where they believe the evidence points; and when they arrest you, it’s because they believe the evidence points to you as the perpetrator of the crime. Now that that they’ve arrested you, their goal isn’t to find someone else to arrest – it’s to interpret the evidence to support their suspicions against you.
It’s a hefty presumption against you. To fight it, you need a lawyer on your side.
You Have Legal Rights
Everyone charged with a crime has certain legal rights. These rights include, but are not limited to, the right:
- to be protected against unlawful search and seizure
- not to speak with law enforcement
- to representation by a lawyer
- to a speedy trial
- to a jury free of obvious discrimination or bias
- to avoid testifying against themselves
While many people are aware of their rights, fewer people realize that many of these rights have to be actively asserted at the right time and place in order for them to be upheld by the court. Your defense lawyer knows when, where, and how to assert your rights. This helps to ensure that police and prosecutors do their job. A good defense lawyer holds them responsible for following proper procedure, and not violating your rights while they attempt to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty. If they cannot meet this burden of proof without violating your rights – then they must move on, and turn their attentions elsewhere.
You May Have a Defense
In a criminal trial, you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Criminal defense attorneys, in building your case, typically focus on one or both of two categories:
- information that creates reasonable doubt about your guilt (like an alibi), and
- information that creates a legal defense to a crime whether or not you did it (like self-defense).
To make the most of both of these tools for proving your innocence, you need a lawyer who has experience putting these tools to work. Your lawyer can help you maximize every opportunity to defend yourself and end the charges against you.
Learn More About Working With a Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you’ve been charged with a crime or find yourself at the center of a criminal investigation, having a good criminal defense lawyer to protect your legal rights can make all the difference. To learn more, contact Jonathan D. Schmidt today by calling (319) 774-6078 for a consultation.