Criminal Law Myths
What you don’t know about criminal law may surprise you. A defense attorney can give you the straight facts about your case, and may help take the confusion out of your criminal charges.
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Criminal Law Myth # 1: “They didn’t read me my rights, so they have to drop the charges.”
When you’re questioned in custody, the police are required to read you your rights and offer you the opportunity to have an attorney present. However, the idea that charges must be dismissed if the police failed to read your rights is overly optimistic, and can lead to a dangerous false sense of security.
First, the police aren’t always required to read your rights before questioning you; that only comes into play during “custodial interrogation“.
Second, even if the police were required to read you your rights and failed to do so, the charges won’t necessarily be dismissed. In fact, they usually won’t. In most circumstances, if the police were required to read your rights and failed to do so, then whatever information they gathered during that questioning cannot be used against you.
Sometimes that leaves the prosecution without sufficient evidence to go ahead with the case against you, but in most cases it only means that your statement is excluded and the case moves forward without it. If other evidence exists, such as physical evidence, witnesses, or a police report, it may still be used in your case.
Criminal Law Myth # 2: “That’s entrapment!”
Entrapment has a very specific meaning in the criminal justice system, and it doesn’t mean most of the things that the average person believes that it means. In simple terms, entrapment means that law enforcement officers led you to do something that you wouldn’t have done unless they’d encouraged you to do it.
The fact that the government provided the opportunity to commit the crime is generally not sufficient to establish entrapment if you were ready and willing to commit the crime. This includes trying to buy illegal drugs or solicit prostitution from an undercover police officer.
Criminal Law Myth # 3: “My juvenile record is sealed.”
It’s certainly true that most juvenile criminal records can be sealed, but if you have a juvenile criminal record, chances are good that it has not been sealed unless you took specific action to make that happen. Although many people assume that juvenile criminal records are automatically sealed, most states require that you make a request or a motion in order to have your records sealed. If you have a juvenile criminal history and have been assuming that your records are sealed, check into the laws in your state. You will probably need to take legal action if you wish to have your juvenile criminal record sealed.