The United States of America has the best system of justice in the world, but it is not perfect. Our system is set up to try to ensure that the guilty are punished and the innocent are set free. Most of the time it works, but no system is perfect. The justice system exists to protect the rights of the people and to keep our community safe. The goal is to ensure that the laws are applied fairly and evenly, and that every person who has been accused of a crime is guaranteed a fair trial. It has been said that it is better for a guilty person to go free than for an innocent person to be wrongly convicted. But what does that mean if you are an innocent person who has been falsely accused of a crime?
Remember that being accused of a crime is not the same as being convicted. Our legal system has many built-in protections that allow a person to defend themselves against criminal charges. But that system takes place in the court, not on the street. If a person is charged with a crime they did not commit, that does not mean that the system has failed. It means that they will have their day in court which is guaranteed by the Constitution and our laws.
But just because we have an excellent legal system that is set up to protect the innocent, mistakes do happen. If you have been wrongly accused of a crime it is still very important that you do everything you can to protect your record and your freedom. Whatever the reason why you have been falsely accused of a crime, one thing is absolutely clear — you need to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney IMMEDIATELY.
How Can I be Charged with a Crime I did not Commit?
Every case is different, so there is no clear answer to this question that applies to every case. Instead, here are some basic observations about the criminal justice system in North Carolina that can lead to someone being falsely accused:
- It takes less evidence to charge somebody with a crime than to convict them. Being found guilty in a criminal trial requires that the charges be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest standard of proof in the entire court system. Being charged with a crime merely requires a finding that there is “probable cause” that you committed the crime. This is a much lower degree of certainty.
- Circumstantial evidence might make it look like you did something wrong, even though you did not. Not every case involves eyewitnesses. Everyone has seen or been involved in a situation that looked much worse that it turned out to actually be. Sometimes a person looks guilty before all the facts are known. This is why we have courts.
- In North Carolina a crime can be charged without the involvement of the police or law enforcement. The police investigate many alleged crimes and do a good job of filtering out the cases that have no proof or appear to be without merit. But our state allows private individuals to also seek criminal charges by going directly before a magistrate judge. If the magistrate finds that there is probable cause that a crime took place, they will issue a warrant.
One can imagine many other frightening situations where a person could be falsely accused: mistaken identity, being in the wrong place when a crime was committed by others, or being victimized by somebody with a grudge making false accusations against you.
Your Freedom is at Stake Even Though You are Falsely Accused
Our attorneys are aggressive, experienced, criminal defense attorneys who understand the North Carolina justice system and the laws of North Carolina. You are innocent until proven guilty. You do not have to prove that you are innocent, but you may have to go to court to fight against the charges against you. Here are some important things you should keep in mind if you are falsely accused of a crime:
- Do not resist arrest – You will have your day in court, but if you are being arrested it is not the time to argue about your case. Resisting arrest is a separate crime. You are frightened but you need to keep calm, listen to what the officers are saying to you, and do not resist. Try to be polite and respectful. Once you are at the police station, you can request your attorney. Yelling about your constitutional rights and your right to an attorney while struggling with the officers will only make matters worse. If your rights were violated, you will have your chance later to bring that before the court.
- Request an attorney – Asking an officer if he “thinks you need an attorney” is not the same as invoking your right to counsel. Specifically state, “I want an attorney. I will not answer any questions without my attorney present.”
- Telling your side of the story rarely helps your case – If you are falsely accused and you know you are innocent, your first instinct is to tell your side of the story to the police. DO NOT TALK TO THE POLICE. The police believe they have the right person and nothing you say is going to convince them otherwise. Everything you say can be twisted and used against you. Invoke your right to remain silent and do so with the exception of asking for your attorney.
Contact an Experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney
“Attorneys Who Aggressively Protect Your Rights”
Welch and Avery is a full service Jacksonville Criminal and Civil law firm committed to providing results-driven legal representation to businesses and individuals seeking an alternative to large-firm representation. We offer personalized service to each of our clients because we understand how stressful it is to be dealing with a legal problem.
When you need an experienced attorney in your corner, you want one who knows the law and who has the experience to get results. The attorneys of Welch and Avery are ready to protect your best interests by fighting for your rights inside and outside of the courtroom.
We represent clients throughout Duplin County, Onslow County and the surrounding communities. Call our office at (910) 347-0161 or contact us online today for a free case evaluation.
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