Being charged with a federal crime can be highly stressful and disruptive to every aspect of your life—but it's possible to make things even worse. Federal criminal defendants are often their own worst enemies because they make mistakes that benefit the prosecution and hurt their own case. What you do between the indictment and the trial can greatly impact whether or not you are convicted and what your penalties might be. Let's discuss four of the biggest and most common mistakes made by defendants awaiting trial for federal crimes.
Talking About the Case
Remember your Miranda Rights? "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." That holds true not just with law enforcement and the prosecution but with others as well. Obviously, you should avoid answering questions or making statements to law enforcement or federal investigators, especially without an attorney present. However, even casual conversations with others can ultimately hurt your case. Whenever you talk about the case with someone other than your attorney, you're creating a potential witness that prosecutors might subpoena to testify. And an inadvertent slip-of-the-tongue could do great damage to your defense.
Sharing on Social Media
When you post on the Internet, you're creating a permanent record that prosecutors could use against you. Social media outlets can be used as a two-way communication platform about your case. The prosecution could subpoena any or all of the people involved in these conversations and force them to testify against you. Even posting certain photos without comments could severely damage your defense because something in the photos might inadvertently tie you to the crime. To be safe, avoid social media while your federal case is in process.
Getting Rid of Evidence
When accused of a crime, many people's natural impulse is to try and get rid of anything that could incriminate them or make them appear guilty. What you might not realize is that the very act of destroying evidence makes you appear guilty. (Not to mention, destruction of evidence is a crime in itself, one that could result in more charges.) Remember that not every piece of evidence is admissible in court, and your attorney will have an easier time defending you if you simply leave the evidence alone.
Hiring an Inexperienced Attorney
Federal cases look and act differently than ones that happen in your local jurisdiction. Since most federal crimes require a grand jury indictment, federal prosecutors won't even charge you unless they are convinced they have enough evidence to convict you. Stakes this high call for an attorney with extensive experience in federal cases. An attorney who lacks this experience is more likely to make errors that ultimately could hurt your defense. Always seek out an attorney with specific federal trial experience to better your chances for success.
The lawyers of the Sigal Law Group have extensive experience and a stellar track record in defending those accused of federal crimes. Call us today at (818) 325-0570 for a free consultation.