The first mistake is that people allow search or seizure of their property when the police come to your home, work or vehicle. Both Texas and the United States constitution prohibit the unreasonable search and seizure of a person, of bodily fluids, of property. The police are prohibited from searching your home without a search warrant and do not give the police permission to enter your home unless they present the proper search warrant for you. A lot of times the police may ask you if you give them consent to search your home and you may think that you don't have anything in your home that could be considered illegal or against the law, but I would suggest that unless they have a search warrant not to allow them in your home. Also, if they do have a search warrant, make sure and read that search warrant first if you have the opportunity to. You're entitled to get a copy of that search warrant.
2. Voluntary Statement
The second mistake people make are to give a voluntary statement. Again, both the Texas and the United States constitution give you the right to remain silent and the right not to speak with the police or any type of detective or law enforcement agency without an attorney being present. They may tell you, "you don't need an attorney", or "we'll go easier on you without an attorney." If you get an attorney, they're going to tell you that you can talk to them, trust them, or all sorts of things that in order to get you to talk. We would recommend not talking to law enforcement. Rather, definitely, but politely, tell them that you are evoking your right to an attorney and at that point do not say anything else. Remain silent from that point forward until you have the legal counsel of an attorney. You have the right to remain silent, and that is exactly what you should go if you are faced with the police officer or detective or a prosecutor.
3. Be Polite!
The third most common mistake people make in a criminal matter is not being polite or courteous with the police officer if they're being questioned. Just think about it and be smart. Don't give the police a reason to escalate the situation or to use violence or force against you just because you're being rude or cocky or not being polite towards them. Remember being courteous and polite go a long way with dealing with the police officers, even though it may be a high-stress situation.
4. Resisting Arrest
The fourth most common mistake people make in a criminal matter is to resist arrest. If the police are going to arrest you, they're going to arrest you. They've made up their decision probably long before they actually have you with your hands behind your back in handcuffs that they're going to arrest you. If you attempt to resist, run away or fight them in any way, it can only lead to injury or it could cause you to add an additional charge to your arrest.
5. Voluntary Samples of Bodily Fluids, Fingerprints, Handwriting or Clothing
The fifth common mistake people make is that they voluntarily give samples of their body fluids, fingerprints, handwriting or clothing. You don't have to give the police any of those items, your body fluids, fingerprints, handwriting or clothing, without a court order or your attorney's permission. This includes stops for driving while intoxicated or DWI. We would encourage you not to submit to a breathalyzer test or a blood test unless you have a court order. Then you don't have an opportunity to make the decision. The court has already said you must give your bodily fluids to the officer, but if you think that you're going to be trying to get out of a case by giving them a fingerprint sample, we would recommend that you not unless you contact an attorney and get further legal advice specifically on your case. There may be reasons in your specific case that an attorney would tell you not to give those items to the police at that time. Contact an attorney before you submit any o
6. Polygraph Tests
The sixth common mistake people make in a criminal case is taking a polygraph text or a lie detector test. Polygraphs tests are inadmissible in court because they are somewhat unreliable. There are very few times when we would suggest to our clients that should take a polygraph test and under certain circumstances. Sometimes we allow our clients to take polygraph tests or submit to lie detector test when we have retained the polygrapher because if the polygraph test results come back negatively, then we do not have to provide that over to the prosecutor. However, if the test comes back positively, then we can provide the positive results to the prosecutor for consideration-although it's not admissible at a trial. We've also used successful polygraph tests in grand jury packets.
7. Don't Hide Information from Your Attorney
The seventh most common mistake people make in a criminal office is to not tell your attorney all of the facts. This is one of the most important mistakes. Your lawyer can't give you the best representation if we don't know all of the facts in the case. It's not good for an attorney to be surprised with any facts or information that we learn at a later time, specifically at trial or at a hearing. We have to be able to know everything about the case, everything about you that we feel is relevant or that would be relevant to your case so that we can do a better job protecting you and your interests. A surprise at trial is very difficult to deal with. A surprise in front of a judge is very difficult to deal with, so I would recommend that any time you have an attorney, even if you're not telling the whole story about what happened to the rest of your family, it's important that you tell your attorney the truth about what happened.
8. Don't Wait to Hire an Attorney
The eighth common mistake is waiting until the very last minute to hire an attorney. Many people believe that once they're arrested that the case will just go away because of they talk to the prosecutor, they can explain to them why they shouldn't have been charged. This almost never works. There are rare instances in which a prosecutor would consider your side of the story, but we would not recommend taking that chance. If you talk to a prosecutor, as we stated previously, statements made to a prosecutor are actually a voluntary statement which can be used against you. If an attorney speaks on your behalf, the statements cannot be used against you because it's not coming directly from you. Many people also believe that if they just ignore the case, it'll just go away. That certainly is not going to happen. People charged with crimes, or who are about to be charged with a crime, need to hire an attorney immediately.
9. Hire an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer
The ninth common mistake people make is representing himself or herself or hiring a lawyer that's not experienced in criminal law or with handling criminal trials. There is an old proverb that says "He who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client." Criminal charges can have serious consequences on your life. A variety of cases can have a variety of effects on your life including losing your driver's license, losing your job, being deported, losing security clearance, losing your children and many times, losing your freedom and liberty. If you represent yourself or hire just the cheapest lawyer that you find or an attorney that's not experienced in criminal defense, it can have a tremendous negative outcome on your case. Many cases have specific legal consequences that you may not be aware of and an inexperienced or new or non-criminal lawyer may not either.
10. Don't Take Advice from Non-Lawyers
Finally, the tenth common mistake people make when faced with a criminal offense is taking advice from someone who's not a lawyer. There is a lot of so called "jailhouse lawyers" or "wannabe" lawyers, where they might tell you "I was charged with this before, this is what I did, and this is what you should do too", or "don't listen to your lawyer, they're just trying to get the most money out of your case." If that is what you think about criminal lawyers, let me tell you that we're different. We want the best for all of our clients and strive to do the very best job we can do in every case. It doesn't mean that we can get every case dismissed or get everybody out of jail because in some cases it may not be possible. One of the worst things you can do is to take advice from someone who's not an attorney that does not know the legal system like we do. Make sure to hire an attorney that has the criminal experience that you need.
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