Being arrested and charged with a crime can be one of the most frightening ordeals a person can face. In cases where police overstep their bounds, innocent people may be arrested for reasons they are not even aware of at the time.
In other cases, they may have known about a crime, but were wrongly blamed for it even though they didn’t do anything wrong.
That’s why it’s important to understand truth vs myth should you ever encounter law enforcement. Doing so can make the difference between imprisonment or freedom.
Myth 1 – Police must always read you your Miranda rights when making an arrest
You may have heard the phrase often on television – the Miranda Warning.
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand your rights?”
A common belief about the Miranda Warning is that police must always read it when making an arrest. Otherwise, your case can be thrown out in court. Police are NEVER required to Mirandize you. However, if they don’t and they are interrogating you, then the statements you make cannot be used against you.
In Texas, there is an additional statement that MUST be accompanied with Miranda. “You have the right to terminate this interview at anytime.” It’s important to immediately say you would like to speak to a lawyer before answering any questions. The Texas Miranda – which was derived from the 2013 Supreme Court case of Salinas V. Texas – may allow prosecutors to use your silence against you if you do not affirmatively state you want a lawyer.
Myth 2 – You must talk to the police
While it is illegal to lie to police, you are under no obligation to answer any questions they ask you. In far too many cases, suspects attempt to lie their way out of an arrest. This only makes them look more suspicious – leading to further probing. In short, the more you talk, the more likely you are to say something that can be used against you – even if you know you didn’t commit a crime.
This doesn’t just apply to arrests. You’re also not required to speak to police if you are stopped or if they ask you for help in solving a crime that happened in your area. The only thing you are required to do in Texas is identify yourself.
Myth 3 – You have the right to a phone call after being arrested
In the event that you’re arrested and booked, you may or may not be allowed to make one phone call. There is currently no federal law or Texas law granting the right to a phone call to arrestees.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you wouldn’t be given the opportunity to make a phone call. Despite state law, this procedure may be adopted by local municipalities or police stations.
Myth 4 – Police can’t lie when questioning you
It is unlawful for you to lie to police during an investigation. However, that doesn’t mean that police can’t lie to you. In fact, lying is a common tactic they use to convince suspects to admit to a crime. In some cases, this tactic results in innocent people being convicted of crimes they didn’t commit.
This is one of the many reasons why your right to remain silent is so crucial. Anything you tell police can be used to connect you to a crime. Even if you’re 100 percent innocent, if you admit to a crime for any reason, it’s highly likely you will be convicted.
Myth 5 – Police deception is considered entrapment
Entrapment and deception are two completely different things. Affirmative defense due to entrapment can only be upheld in court if you were forced or coerced by police to commit a crime you otherwise wouldn’t have committed.
On the other hand, police will use deceptive tactics on suspects they believe will likely commit a crime. They don’t force suspects to commit a crime, but simply create the conditions and see if suspects will take the bait. When a suspect does so, it provides hard evidence that he or she intended to commit a crime.
Myth 6 – You can only be charged with a crime if someone presses charges
A person victimized by a crime can choose whether or not they want to press charges. However, this doesn’t mean that a suspect won’t be arrested and charged. In the end, the decision to press charges against a suspect is in the hands of a prosecutor.
Myth 7 – Evidence can only be used against you if police have a search warrant
Police don’t need to obtain search warrants if they notice incriminating evidence in plain sight. For example, if you’re pulled over and a police officer asks to search your vehicle, you don’t have to consent to the search. If, however, an officer sees illegal contraband (drugs, illegal weapons, etc.) in your vehicle, that evidence can be used against you – just as it would if you consented to a search. Unfortunately, marijuana is still illegal in Texas. So, if they smell it in your car or on your person, they can search.
If there is no visible incriminating evidence and you didn’t consent to a search, police may not search your vehicle. If they do, any evidence they find is inadmissible in court.
Myth 8 – Without fingerprints, DNA, or video evidence, you can’t be convicted
Incriminating evidence doesn’t always have to be extracted through a forensic investigation. In fact, not all convictions are made due to hard evidence. If you admit to a crime, or if witnesses (including investigators) testify in court, you can still be charged and convicted.
Myth 9 – Your spouse can’t testify against you in court
Spousal immunity prevents prosecutors from forcing your spouse from testifying against you or disclosing information communicated privately.
However, if your spouse chooses to testify against you in court, he or she can’t be prevented from doing so. In addition, spousal immunity only applies if you were married at the time of the conviction. If you were divorced beforehand, prosecutors may force your spouse to testify against you.
Also, if your spouse is the “victim” of the crime, Texas law can force the spouse to testify – even if they don’t want to testify.
Myth 10 – All cases go to trial
Most criminal cases don’t actually go to trial, but are rather solved through plea bargains. If hard evidence is brought against someone charged with a crime, a plea bargain may reduce the severity of the penalties. However, if there isn’t enough evidence that a crime has been committed, and the person facing charges remained silent, the case could either go to trial or be thrown out.
If you have been arrested, it’s critical that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you fight the charges. At The Webb Firm, P.C., we have extensive prosecutorial and courtroom experience handling criminal cases.
We’ll work tirelessly to review your case and provide the best legal defense possible. Contact us today to find out how we can help.