Being an innocent person who is on the receiving end of an accusation can be devastating. Presumption of innocence dictates that the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove guilt. However, being innocent does not mean that you can rest easy after being charged. You must be prepared to fight to prove your innocence if possible and you must find a flaw in the prosecution’s case against you.
Try to Stop the Charges From Being Filed
The first step that any defendant should take is contacting an attorney. You should not utter a word that may be used against you in court. Instead of arguing your case to arresting officers or at the police station on your own, request to use your right to an attorney to contact a reputable criminal defense attorney.
Your attorney can try to stop the prosecution from filing the charges in the first place, particularly if there errors in the police report or it is missing key information. Some cases never get filed because a conversation between the defense attorney and the prosecutor reveals that there really is no winnable case for the prosecution. While it is unlikely, preventing the filing is the surest, fastest, and least expensive outcome.
Dismissal Before Trial
If the prosecution does file the charges, the case can still be dismantled before it goes to court. Anything such as failure to read Miranda Rights, lack of a search warrant or other procedural errors will give the attorney leverage on the prosecution. The prosecution may then drop the charges after it faces the reality that they will not be able to sustain a case that developed erroneously. Your defense attorney will have to make a judgment call as to whether or not to bring any information to the prosecution’s attention in pre-trial communication.
Going to Trial
If you are wrongly accused and the case goes to trial, there may be additional opportunities for the truth to come to light. False accusations are harder to sustain over long timeframes, new evidence may present itself that clears your name, or your attorney may be able to establish reasonable doubt during the trial process.
Many options are available for innocent defendants. The most important thing you can do is to take the charges seriously from the get go and hire an attorney to represent your best interests. An experienced attorney can truly turn things around and help clear your name. The last thing you want is to end up on a list like this: 10 Infamous Inmates Who Were Wrongly Convicted.