Much of what we know and are prepared to deal with in life is dictated by our own experiences. For the average person, that means they will have had no interaction with law enforcement, criminal charges, or court appearances. They will enjoy the freedoms that most Americans take for granted, as is their right, with only a handful of people, outside of university students and legal professionals, actually understanding what is in the United States Constitution, or more importantly, why it matters and how it protects those freedoms.
Because of this, these people tend to be completely unprepared for interacting with law enforcement professionals, and don’t understand the difference between the possibility of criminal charges and actually being charged as a criminal. Many times their only points of reference are television dramas or sensationalist media reports, all of which are generally either circumstantial, or outright inaccurate. This causes people to unjustly mistrust the police. Worse, those misperceptions can cause them to unintentionally interfere with legitimate investigations, or appear guilty when they are in fact innocent. In almost every instance these people simply do not have a complete understanding of their rights. Just like trying to open a locked door without the key, they know enough to turn the knob, but not enough to get the lock open, which by definition diminishes their rights.
This is where a criminal defense lawyer is essential, as they’re experts in the U.S. Constitution, well versed in the investigative process, and often personally know investigators or prosecutors in their jurisdictions. Contrary to what television drama would imply, criminal defense lawyers do not primarily defend criminals. In fact, the opposite is more commonly the case, with innocent people statistically more often under criminal suspicion than the actual criminals. But even though criminal defense lawyers end up defending more innocent people than guilty people, that fact just never makes the news.
For example, a burglary may occur in a neighborhood where a number of teens from different homes and parts of town are under suspicion due to their proximity to the crime. Only one or two of them are actually guilty, but initially they will all be suspects. This can disrupt lives and cause damage to the reputations of these children, and it has the potential to incite or fuel racial tensions. Alternatively, a business may realize that petty cash has gone missing and involve the police. Only one or two employees committed the theft, but initially everyone will be a suspect. This is an unfortunate but necessary part of the process, but it is time-consuming, disrupts life, and is emotionally exhausting. Worse, no one in a community or office forgets when the police arrest someone, and being innocent doesn’t change that.
This makes securing someone experienced and knowledgeable an essential first step for the innocent any time the potential for criminal charges exists. It can shield them from some of the more unpleasant parts of an investigation, and more knowledgeable counsel will be familiar with the process, often speeding things up. In some cases it may be as simple as voluntarily presenting cell phone records to establish an alibi, or providing bank statements to show financial stability and a lack of financial motive. Whatever the alleged crime or accusation, a good criminal defense lawyer will always have expert knowledge of the U.S. Constitution, the processes involved, and how they apply to the laws surrounding the case.
Much as you wouldn’t leave the health care of your family or security of your home to chance, you also shouldn’t be cavalier with your family’s freedoms or rights. Identifying a good criminal defense lawyer in your area will make sure you’re prepared in the event your family, friends, or even co-workers unexpectedly need to make sure their rights are protected, and that no one is wrongly accused or unjustly detained.
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