Queens County Bar Association
Martindale Hubbell - Distinguished 2023

What Are the Top Misconceptions About Being Arrested for a Crime?

The biggest misconception is that most people assume that the best thing that they can do is try to explain themselves to the nice police officer who wants to hear their side of the story. Unfortunately, the reason that the arresting officer wants to hear their side of the story is so that they can use it against the person. When somebody is arrested, the smartest thing to do is to say nothing to the officer about the case. It is a one way street. If you say something that turns out to be helpful for you, it cannot be used in court. If you say something that turns out to harm you in some way, then that can be used against you. So it is best never to say anything.

For instance, if you say, “I only hit him because he hit me first”, you are making an admission that you struck the ‘victim” and that can be used against you. Never ever make any statements to the police officer. Just tell him you are happy to talk to him once you have an attorney present. If you say that, he will not ask you any more questions and you will not hurt yourself. Time and time again, people come to me after they have been arrested and I find out that they have made statements which they thought were helpful and it turned out to be very incriminating. So the advice is to not say anything ever without your attorney.

Do People Hesitate in Hiring an Attorney for Fear of Looking Guilty?

This is what the police want you to think. It could not be further from the truth. When I get a case and I call the detective who wants to make an arrest or another district attorney, they are not happy to hear from me because they know once I am into the case, automatically they cannot speak to my client and they are not going to be able to make their case by speaking with the person who is being arrested and getting them to inadvertently say things that they should not say. Once there is an attorney that is the end of it. Nobody is upset and nobody holds that against you.

Part of police training is to make you think that it is in your interest to give them your side of the story. It is never a good idea to give your side of the story and your side of the story will never ever result in your getting released. Most of the time in our regular lives, we are conditioned (rightly) to give our side of the story. We want to explain ourselves. The boss says, “What happened here?” You want to tell him what happened and give “your side of the story”. In a criminal case, it is a one-way street. It is never ever helpful to give your side of the story to the police and it is their job and perfectly acceptable and legal for them to make you think that you have an advantage by giving your side of the story. Do not do it.

How Do People Generally React To Being Arrested For A Crime?

The first reaction is exactly what I just said. You want to explain yourself, you want to give your side of the story. It is a perfectly normal reaction and it is a very strong reaction. There are many times when I advise people exactly as I am doing now and they cannot help themselves. They want to give their side of the story. It is a very difficult thing to sit back and say, “This is not the right time for me to give my side of the story.” So they go ahead and they inadvertently incriminate themselves.

Advice For People Contemplating A Guilty Plea In A Criminal Case

Nobody is going to help you if you do not want to help yourself. The district attorney is not going to help you, the judge is only going to hear one side of the story because nobody is giving your side, nobody is giving all of the reasons why you should be treated favorably when dealing with the district attorney. If you want to just let the district attorney decide what he thinks is the best disposition of the case, then fine, just walk in and they will treat you accordingly. The biggest problem is that you open yourself to the very real possibility that you are going to wind up with a criminal record, which would stay with you for the rest of your life and will influence every part of your life when it was not something that had to happen.

A good lawyer, who knows what he is doing, even if you have done something wrong, can often convince both the district attorney and the court that you should be treated leniently. For most people, there is a good reason why they should be treated more leniently than what the district attorney and judge may initially think. You need somebody to tell your side which you cannot do yourself. Nobody can. If I were arrested and I were charged with a crime, I would not represent myself; I would get the very best lawyer that I could who is on the outside, who can stand up and make my case as strongly as possible even if I had done something wrong, because there is a great difference in the way people are treated when they have a good lawyer who will fight for them as opposed to people that just essentially let themselves be represented by anybody and at the mercy of the court.

For more information on Misconceptions About A Criminal Arrest, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (718) 793-5700 today.

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