In a previous article, I wrote about six of the most common criminal law myths that the general public believes. These misconceptions occur because of inaccurate television portrayals of criminal justice procedures. Or, people simply have too much faith in the criminal justice system.
However, there are many more myths. In this post, I will enlighten you about six more of common criminal law myths exposed.
Criminal Law Myths Exposed
You won’t be charged with a crime if no one presses charges.
You often see this on legal procedural shows: the battered wife refuses to press charges and the prosecutor’s hands are tied.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
It’s not average citizens who have discretion about charging someone else with a crime; it’s the prosecutor.
The prosecutor may be influenced to some degree by an unwilling witness, but it’s her choice what charges to file when to file them and against whom they file charges.
A citizen has almost no control over this process.
You can’t be convicted without hard, scientific evidence.
This misconception is due to the abundance of shows depicting police obtaining incontrovertible, scientific evidence – fingerprints, DNA or video evidence. Most people believe that if police don’t have that evidence, they can’t be convicted.
In fact, not only is forensic science still more of an art than a science, but prosecutors win cases without this type of evidence all the time. It usually only takes the eyewitness testimony of one person to convict.
You can’t get a DUI on private property.
This myth is a widely-held belief and completely untrue.
You can get a DUI in your own car, parked in your own driveway with the keys in your pocket.
In addition, you can get charged with public intoxication from your own front porch if you attract the wrong attention.
You get a phone call after you’re arrested.
There’s no recognized constitutional right to a phone call.
Police must tell you what you’re being arrested for, they have to show you if they have an arrest warrant against you, and they must bring you to court as soon as it reasonably possible.
However, the police don’t have to provide you with a phone call or any communication with anyone outside of jail.
There are several states which have laws specifically granting arrestees the right to a phone call. However, Michigan is not one of them. Other states have adopted procedures which do allow you to communicate with others following an arrest.
A spouse can’t testify against you.
While it’s true that prosecutors can’t force your spouse to testify against you, and the state can’t force him to divulge confidential communications between the two of you, it’s not a catch-all protection.
Your spouse can waive their immunity, and you can’t prevent it. It doesn’t apply to ex-spouses, or when one spouse is charged with a crime against the other or one of their children. It also doesn’t apply to conversations that happened before marriage.
Your case will go to trial.
Criminal trials make for good entertainment – especially if they’re highly sensationalized.
However, most criminal trials don’t happen, and when they do they aren’t long, complicated and drawn-out. The popular depiction of this – whether in fictional TV shows or televised trials – couldn’t be further from the truth.
The overwhelming majority of criminal cases in the United States end in plea bargain agreements. The rest are dismissed or involve defendants who die. This accounts for 90% of cases.
Contact Michigan Defense Attorney David J. Kramer
Hopefully, exposing these myths will help you – the average citizen – to know more about the criminal process in our country and prevent you from trying to navigate it on your own.
If you are unfortunate enough to be wrestling with this system right now, know that you are not obligated to do it on your own. You need to obtain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney now.
Contact me today. I would be honored to help.