What Is Your Experience With Handling Criminal Cases?
I received my degrees with a specialty certification in criminal law and procedures. I started practicing dependency & delinquency work in Wallowa County. Also, from there, I practiced criminal law. I have been practicing primarily criminal law since 2008, with the focus in criminal law. According to the AVA, and the defense services standards, I am qualified to work any case except for murder cases, and cases facing death penalties. However, other than that, I am qualified to handle high-level sex offender cases, sex abuse cases, any class A felonies, attempted murders etc., all the way to a basic Class A, B, C misdemeanor levels.
What Are The Top Misconceptions People Have About Being Arrested For A Crime?
The biggest misconception is folks think that contacting the state to give their side of the story is imperative. I often have people that make the mistake of talking about their case to others, or trying to write letters to the judge, they are giving more information for the state’s side of their case. Even family members try to be helpful by writing letters to the judge to tell them that their family member is not this type of person and here is why, that can be harmful to be honest. Any communication like that should be through your attorney.
Always exercise your right to remain silent and filter your information that you want to use to explain your situation or provide mitigating information to the court. You only want to filter that information through your attorney. Remember, there are law enforcement officials, witnesses, who will tell their side of the story, and you need to be mindful on how you choose to protect yourself. There is a process for you to follow, it takes some time, but you need to trust your attorney in providing the information when that time is right.
Another big misconception is that the state will dismiss the case even if you provide information before trial. Even through an investigation, good character, and providing statements from witnesses, they may recant their statements is a possibility with these cases, never assume anything. It does not happen too often, especially in the county that I work in. The state may dismiss your case on the day of the trial or even dismiss it after they receive information about your case that things are not going their way, especially if you have testimony produced that is favorable to the defense.
Often, people think, “I shouldn’t have to go to trial on this matter”, and they become frustrated, unfortunately within our criminal justice system, the time to be heard and the time to hold the state to their standard of proven guilty on a reasonable doubt is what trial is all about. I think that is the biggest misconception that most people have about this process.
How Do People Unintentionally Incriminate Themselves?
There are people who do respect most law enforcement agencies. My job is to scrutinize these people and to make sure that they are not committing any constitutional violations. I get along with those people, including those in law enforcement. However, I am not going to become friends with law enforcement officers’ during an investigation. I am not going to make small talk, and I am not going to tell them, “Hey I messed up, and here is why”. Law enforcement often uses statements such as, “If you tell me what’s going on, I’ll make different recommendations to the district attorney I’ll choose. I won’t charge you with these things”.
However, it is not up to any law enforcement officer whether they charge you with these crimes. They can make all the promises they want, and they can even make false statements so you will elicit certain comments right in that moment. You want to do everything you can to position yourself without offering any statement that they may use against you at any time. Therefore, it is not up to any law enforcement personnel as to what happens to you in the court process; that is strictly up to the district attorney. The district attorney receives the reports including all the statements from your case, and there are no comments in those reports from any law enforcement agencies making any promises to you.
They might not have cited you with an initial charge in their report, but the district attorney examines all information reports as a whole, often taking most felonies through a grand jury proceeding. Then they make the decision on what are the charges. Therefore, it does not matter how friendly you are with the law enforcement officers. I do think it is important to remember to be cooperative and polite in the sense that you are not trying to get into any altercations with them though. The best thing for you to do is to just be polite, exercise your right to remain silent, and do not try to save yourself in the moment, you need to be in protective of your rights.
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