When you get arrested, everything you say and do can impact your ability to have a successful defense. With this in mind, you need to be extremely careful, and you need to avoid doing anything that could put your freedom in jeopardy. Keep reading to learn about 10 common mistakes to avoid from an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney.
10 Mistakes to Avoid When Facing Criminal Charges in New Jersey
Avoiding mistakes after an arrest is critical for ensuring that you preserve all opportunities to defend yourself. This includes avoiding mistakes such as:
1. Talking to the Police
Once you’ve been arrested, you should not say anything to the police without your attorney present. This is true regardless of whether the police have read your Miranda rights. You have the right to remain silent, and you should exercise it. If you speak to the police voluntarily, anything you say will likely be used against you.
Another reason not to talk to the police is that you might not realize you are saying something you shouldn’t. Many police investigators are very good at getting suspects to talk without realizing that they are getting themselves in trouble. To avoid saying something you cannot take back, it is best to avoid saying anything at all.
2. Pleading Guilty in Court
Unless your New Jersey criminal defense attorney advises you otherwise, you should not plead guilty in court. Contrary to popular belief, pleading guilty will not convince the judge to go easy on you. Once you plead guilty, your case will be scheduled for sentencing, and you will lose any opportunity to fight to keep your record clean.
Regardless of the facts of your case, you have defenses available, and you owe it to yourself and your family to fight for the best outcome possible.
3. Assuming the Truth Will Prevail
If you believe you are innocent, you cannot assume the truth will prevail. Even if the facts are on your side, you will still need to fight to avoid a conviction. According to a report from Seton Hall University Law School, it is estimated that between one and five percent of all individuals in New Jersey prisons are victims of wrongful convictions.
It is also important to keep in mind that while you might think you are innocent, you could be wrong. New Jersey’s criminal laws are complex, and in many cases, it doesn’t take much to commit a serious crime.
4. Ignoring Your Criminal Case
Whether you believe you are guilty or innocent, you cannot afford to ignore your criminal case. If you do, the proceedings will go on without you, and you will almost certainly end up with a conviction on your record. The judge will also sentence you based on the prosecution’s arguments and evidence, and this means there is a good chance that you will get the maximum sentence.
5. Underestimating the Risks You are Facing
Just as you cannot afford to ignore your criminal case, you also cannot afford to underestimate the risks you are facing. In New Jersey, all crimes carry the possibility of fines and jail time; and, if you are being charged with a felony, you could be facing years behind bars. Along with fines and jail time, criminal convictions can have several other consequences as well—and these consequences can potentially stay with you for the rest of your life.
6. Using “Defenses” that Don’t Protect You
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a criminal defendant is trying to use “defenses” that don’t actually protect you. Not only is this entirely ineffective, but in many cases, you can end up giving prosecutors the information they need to secure a conviction.
For example, one of the most common misconceptions about criminal law is that you aren’t guilty if you didn’t know your conduct was illegal. If you say, “I didn’t know I was breaking the law,” and then proceed to admit everything prosecutors need to convict you, this is a mistake you can’t take back.
7. Missing Court Dates
When you have a court date scheduled, you need to make arrangements to show up on time. If you need a ride, make a plan—and make a backup plan—in advance. New Jersey’s judges are extremely busy, and they don’t take kindly to defendants wasting their time.
8. Talking about Your Case with Friends or Family Members
It is important that you avoid discussing your criminal case with friends and family. While there are certain protections for communications between spouses, if prosecutors have reason to believe that your friends or other family members have information they can use against you, they may call on these individuals to testify.
9. Posting on Social Media
It is also important that you avoid posting on social media. Prosecutors will most likely be monitoring your social media accounts; and, if you post something they can use, they will use it. Just as it is best to avoid saying anything to the police, it is best to stay off of social media altogether.
10. Trying to Handle Your Case on Your Own
Finally, you cannot afford to try to handle your case on your own. While these are some of the most common mistakes people make, there are numerous additional mistakes that can put you in jail unnecessarily. When facing criminal charges, you need to rely on a New Jersey criminal defense attorney who can use his or her experience to protect you by all means available.
Request a Free Consultation with a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing criminal charges in New Jersey, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free and confidential consultation. Call 877-435-6371 or contact us online to speak with an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Over 20 attorneys at HCK have extensive experience in defending criminal cases as they were former assistant prosecutors and/or police officers for a combined total of over 600 years of law enforcement experience. You can find out more about them on our site, and you can call Managing Partner Ron Helmer on his cell phone at 609 685-0665.