Being accused of committing a crime will upset your everyday life. Depending on the alleged offense, you could find yourself immediately taken into custody and held in jail for days or longer. Maintaining your privacy could become impossible. Police will conduct an investigation that could involve entering your home, seizing money and property, freezing bank accounts, and interviewing your family members, friends, and coworkers. You might even see your name and picture on TV and the internet.
Holding onto your job or remaining in school may prove difficult. If you are facing a charge for operating a vehicle while intoxicated—which is what Ohio state statutes call driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs—you will almost certainly have your driver’s license and CDL suspended even if the OVI/DUI charge is later dismissed.
Knowing which steps to take while under suspicion for committing a crime will make it easier to maintain as much of your normal life as possible as the process plays out. You can also increase your chances of having a charge thrown out or reduced by understanding and acting on the following five truths.
Police officers do not have to read you your Miranda rights until they formally arrest you. Despite this, everything you say to a law enforcement official at any time can be used as evidence against you.
To be clear, refusing to answer questions will not end an encounter with police or prevent the filing of charges against you. What remaining silent can do, however, is protect you from incriminating yourself.
Think about a traffic stop. The officer will try to get you talking and then listen for slurred speech or excessive nervousness. If what you say raises suspicion, a warning about a tail light can quickly turn into a series of field sobriety tests, warrant checks, and requests to enter your vehicle and look into your car’s trunk.
Police must allow you to contact and consult with a Columbus defense lawyer. This is true even during traffic stops. Speaking with a defense lawyer while being detained and questioned will clarify your rights and help you avoid self-incrimination.
Asking politely to phone or text your attorney is the best practice. So is avoiding the urge to start an argument over what police are not allowed to do. Escalating tensions during an encounter with law enforcement is never a good idea. Violations of police procedure or your rights can be brought up by your defense lawyer as they work to get you released from custody and excused from charges.
Criminal defendants do not need to prove their innocence. Rather, police and prosecutors must legally gather and present sufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A Columbus criminal defense attorney will hold police and prosecutors to their legal obligations by:
Prosecutors often wish to avoid going in front of judge or jury. They might simply want to clear a case quickly, or they may believe that their evidence is less than conclusive. In either scenario, the initial deal they offer for pleading guilty to a lesser charge is unlikely to reduce your actual criminal penalties.
Your Columbus defense lawyer cannot accept or reject a plea deal for you, but they will offer expert advice on whether taking a deal benefits you. Your attorney will also be able to negotiate with prosecutors on your behalf.
Even a relatively lenient sentence such as home arrest or community service with payment of restitution can make resuming your pre-arrest life impossible. Convicted criminals have hard times finding jobs, securing loans, securing benefits such as housing vouchers, and starting businesses. Some penalties such as restrictions on driving privileges may remain in effect long after any jail term is served.
Hiring and working closely with a dedicated Columbus criminal defense lawyer increases your odds for avoiding the harshest penalties and long-term fallout from being accused of a crime. Colin Maher of The Maher Law Firm offers free phone consultations to potential clients. You can contact us online or call Colin at (614) 205-2208.