How To Protect Yourself From Police Or Prosecutorial Misconduct

Law Blog

Among the biggest worries that criminal lawyers have is that their clients might be victims of police or prosecutorial misconduct. It can be hard to undo problems with a case even if there has been misconduct, and the best way to handle the issue is to try to protect yourself from it. Here are three ways suspects, witnesses, and defendants may be able to improve their chances when faced with authorities who are being sketchy.

Get Counsel Early

Waiting to hire an attorney may put you at greater risk. It's best to have someone who knows criminal law present at all times when you interact with any law enforcement official. Criminal lawyers can help their clients determine which questions are appropriate and how to respond, if at all.

Assume All Interactions Are Hostile

The American system of criminal law is inherently adversarial. In other words, there is a team on the side of law enforcement that has the job to go catch the criminals.

Life isn't so simple, but that's how the system works. Consequently, it's wise to assume every interaction you have with a cop or prosecutor is hostile. Assume they intend to throw you in jail, even if they say you're just a witness or a person of interest. Even if you're not currently a suspect, law enforcement officials' attitudes can turn on a dime if something makes them think you might be involved with criminal activity.

Take Notes

Especially if you have yet to speak with any criminal lawyers about your situation, try to be a committed note taker. If a police officer comes up to you and asks you about anything, make an effort to remember the gist of the conversation. Once the conversation is done, make a few notes about it on your phone. When you get the chance, write it down on a notepad or in a journal. Include basic details, such as the officer's name, the date of the conversation, and a couple of sentences describing what you discussed.

Particularly with misconduct in criminal cases, a lot of the challenge for a lawyer is documenting a pattern of behavior. Simple notes can go a long way toward showing a judge that the cops engaged in a pattern of harassment, for example. Your attorney can go into court and say the police contacted you on X, Y, and Z dates, showing the pattern. If the state does charge you with an offense, your lawyer may be able to use the misconduct to back a request to dismiss the case.


30 November 2020

Dealing with Estate Planning When You're Single

Too many single people assume they don't need to plan their estate. My brother fell into this category, and his unexpected passing left our entire family struggling to deal with his home, belongings, and financial accounts. It took nearly three years for the courts to set up a deal because he left no paperwork detailing how he wanted his estate divided. The situation immediately convinced me to work on my own estate, even though I'm still in my early 30's and don't have children or a spouse to worry about. Since it's a little harder to pick beneficiaries and estate managers when you're single, I collected the resources I used for making my own decisions and decided to publish them here on my blog. Use these resources before talking to an estate planning attorney so you're prepared for making hard decisions.