If you're currently facing a criminal charge, it can be extremely stressful, and you're certainly worried about the potential charges you must be facing. Before you hire an attorney and head to court, there are several things you should know before the court date so you can be prepared. Here are some common myths about criminal law as well as the facts so you will be better educated and prepared.
An Alibi Will Help Me Win
While it is certainly good to have an alibi if you're pleading not guilty in a criminal case, they often do not hold as much weight as you think. The courts need to rely on the burden of proof in order to make a final decision. Even if you have a strong alibi, the jury must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that you did not commit the crime, and this decision relies on hard evidence. Most alibi witnesses are someone you know who can vouch for you, even if their statements are untrue. This is why strong, hard evidence hold much more weight in court than an alibi testimony alone.
If I Don't Have Illegal Items On Me, I Can't Be Convicted
Unfortunately, legal possession does not care whether or not the defendant had the items in questions on their person at the time of arrest, whether it is a gun, drugs, or something else. Just because someone doesn't currently have these items on their person at the time of arrest does not make them innocent. Fingerprints, forensic analysis, and DNA are all strong tools used by the prosecution to prove that you had something illegal in your possession at one time or another. Whether it was there when the police arrived is not very relevant to the overall question of whether or not it belonged to you.
If I Refuse to Testify I Look Guilty
You have a Constitutional right not to testify in court if you do not want to. Many people think that if they do not testify in court that the judge and jury will assume they are guilty. If you decide not to say anything, the judge should remind the jury that this is your right and that they should be looking at all of the facts of the case irrelevant to your personal testimony. On the other hand, you may have nothing to lose by testifying. This will really depend on the circumstances of your individual case since the questioning from the prosecutor will be very tough. Sometimes as soon as you testify, it helps sway the jury against you, so it is recommended that you speak to a lawyer (such as one from O'Brien & Dekker) before deciding whether or not testifying is in your best interest.