Facing a criminal charge can be frightening, and appearing before a judge can be intimidating. As a defendant in a criminal case, you will likely spend a fair amount of time working with your attorney to build your defense. Therefore, it’s even more critical to ensure that simple mistakes do not hurt your case. Before you head to the courtroom, remember these things that you should avoid when appearing in a criminal defense case.
Part of the arrest process is being Mirandized. In doing so, the officer will clearly communicate your right to remain silent. This next part is important to remember… be quiet. Too often we see defendants who have inadvertently shared information which is used against them later.
It’s also vital to reserve conversations with your attorney or family for when they are completely confidential. Refrain from sharing details until your lawyer is on-site to advise you.
Agreeing to Tests or Searches Without the Advice of Your Lawyer
In some cases, an officer may ask you to comply with certain requests, including drug tests, polygraph tests, and field sobriety tests. You mustn’t agree to any tests without speaking to your lawyer first. Polygraph tests are notoriously unreliable and are often inadmissible. The same applies to searches of your person or property, including DNA samples. Your lawyer can help navigate these demands and potentially avoid unnecessary invasions of privacy to you or your family.
It’s important to remember that evidence extends beyond physical items and includes digital evidence as well. While it may seem obvious, as a defendant it’s critical that you do not tamper with physical evidence related to your case. Additionally, even if you typically clean messages from your phone or electronic devices, it’s important to avoid doing so. Deleting emails, text messages or social media posts could be considered an obstruction of justice.
There is a saying, “a man who defends himself has a fool for a lawyer.” When you are facing a criminal charge, seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Tampa. Regardless of your innocence or comfort level with the law, it’s essential to protect your rights by mounting a proper defense.
Lying to Your Lawyer
It might be tempting to bend the truth or leave out details when it comes to your criminal defense case. The only way to ensure that your lawyer can provide the best defense is to remain open and honest with them at all times. Conversations with your attorney remain entirely confidential. It’s also important to remember that lies of omission are still lies. Provide your attorney with as much detail as possible to ensure that you can avoid any surprises during your trial.
You must avoid contacting any witnesses associated with your case. Any contact could be construed as an attempt to influence them, even if they are relatives or a close friend. If you must communicate with witnesses, keep it minimal and do not bring up the case. Additionally, if there are witnesses who can aid your case and testify on your behalf, provide their contact information to your lawyer.
Treat your court appearance as you would a job interview, by dressing professionally. A suit and tie are best for men. Women should wear something suitable for an office. Avoid t-shirts, especially ones with slogans and bright colors. There are times for casual attire, but this is not one of them.
Missing Your Court Date or Arriving Late
Be on time or early for court cases and any other appointments, including meetings with your attorney. Your early arrival reinforces that you are both reliable and taking the matter seriously. If an issue arises that will cause you to be unavoidably late, contact your attorney immediately to notify them.
If you miss your court date, take steps to obtain documentation explaining your absence. For instance, if you were in an auto accident, get a police report. Be aware that illness is often only considered an excuse if you are contagious or in the hospital. Consult with your attorney to ensure that you manage each situation appropriately.
Using Your Phone in the Courtroom
You must be both courteous and professional whenever you must appear. Turn your phone off, or at the very least keep it silent, when in the courtroom. Avoid checking your phone or distracting others. Also, be aware that some courtrooms may require you hand your cell phone to security before entering.
Disrespecting Members of the Court
Regardless of innocence or guilt, it’s essential to understand that you are appearing as a criminal defendant. Remain respectful during your appearance. Listen to the judge carefully, follow all instructions and don’t lose your temper. It’s also important that you are polite at all times and avoid using profanities. Wait until it is your turn to speak, and do not interrupt the judge, prosecutor or even your attorney.
A final note on your criminal defense case
A criminal appearance can be scary, but there are things you can do to avoid tainting your case. By following the tips above, you can help make your attorney’s job much more manageable. If you are facing a criminal charge, don’t leave your freedom to chance. Contact our team of experienced defense attorneys to schedule a case review and consultation.