Law Myths

Law Myths – In an effort to dispel many common myths associated with criminal law, we have listed and provided answers to popular myths for you.

  • A case must be dismissed if the defendant is not read their rights when they are being arrested: FALSE. It is commonly believed that upon being arrested, the police are required to read the suspect the Miranda Warning. However, they are only obligated do so if the suspect is put in police custody and is scheduled for interrogation. Otherwise, they are not obligated to give the warning. In addition, if the suspect was supposed to be read the warning, but police failed to do so, the remedy is actually that the defendant may choose to suppress any statements made by in response to questioning by police.

  • A person cannot be convicted if he/she did not have the drugs or weapon on their person: FALSE. It is a common believe that if a person throws the drugs before the police approaches that they cannot be convicted of drug possession. “Possession” under the criminal law is proved when it is shown that the item in question was located in an area that is under the “dominion and control” of the defendant, and that the defendant was aware it was there.

  • A jury will think a defendant is guilty if he/she does not call witnesses: FALSE. Each jury is given instruction that the case may not be decided by the number of witness for the defendant or prosecutor, so the number of witnesses will essentially have no weight. On the contrary, often times calling a irrelevant witness solely for the purpose of having another witness has proved to have a negative impact on the defendant's case. The damages that can be caused effective cross-examination should not be underestimated.

  • The defendant's statement must be suppressed because he/she objected to answering police questions. FALSE. According to well-established law, the suspect is only able to avoid giving a statement by invoking their right to counsel. When this happens, police are prohibited from further interrogation until the suspect is provided with legal counsel. If a suspect merely states that he/she does not wish to answer police questions, police are allowed to try and persuade the suspect to answer. As long as there is no coercive behavior by police, the courts will not suppress the statement.

  • If the defendant does not testify, the jury will think they are guilty: FALSE. A person charged with a crime not only has the constitutional right to remain silent, but also has a constitutional right to testify. By law, the judge is required to inform the defendant of these rights during the trial. If the defendant does not testify, the judge will instruct the jury that every defendant has an absolute constitutional right not to testify, and that the jury may not consider the defendant's decision not to testify in any way during their deliberations. On the other hand, if the defendant does testify the judge will instruct the jury to consider his testimony in the same manner as any other witness.

Federal Criminal Defense Myths

MYTH: Innocent people are acquitted and guilty people are convicted

This is just not so. Unfortunately, the American criminal law system as we've seen in the United States District Courts across this land are far too inundated with cases to separate the guilty from those who are innocent or who cannot be proven guilty. The system, rather, only separates those who have very good criminal defense lawyers from those who do not. Many of you think it is United States District court's function to see to it that you get a fair trial. Well, the judges certainly would like to see you get a fair trial, but don't ever confuse that with believing that the court is going to help you. That is not the court's job. The court's job is to see to it that your criminal defense attorney is given a fair opportunity to cross examine the government's witnesses and to present your defense so as to attempt to convince a jury that the government of the United States has not proven you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The rest is up to your criminal defense attorney. If your criminal defense attorney has not properly investigated, researched or filed the necessary motions in your case, a trial probably is not going to go well. Rest assured the prosecutor and his numerous assistants and federal agencies have done their job. In fact, in a large number of criminal law cases, most of their job was done before you even knew they were investigating you. Contact Joseph Shemaria, criminal law expert in Los Angeles, California today!

MYTH: All criminal defense lawyers are basically equal

Most people believe that criminal defense lawyers with some 20 years or so of criminal law experience are probably about equal and that the lowest cost should be the main concern. Regardless of the number of years of experience, it is more the type of experience that your criminal defense lawyer has. Be sure that your attorney is an experienced criminal defense lawyer in the United States District Court, as its rules and procedures and what it expects of your criminal defense lawyer are far different than those in state courts. To a large extent, some criminal law cases are won or lost prior to the beginning of the trial by way of proper investigation and the bringing of proper pretrial motions. Many criminal law cases are dismissed on a pretrial motion for dismissal when a federal judge believes that the case should not take up his court's time because there is some fatal defect with the indictment or he feels your rights have been infringed.

MYTH: High fee = Good results

Another common myth is that when your federal criminal defense lawyer has charged a large sum of money to defend you, you're in good hands. Well, that may be true and may not. Never confuse the payment of a large fee with a guarantee of a quality criminal defense. Be leery of paying too large a fee for a criminal defense attorney because of the size of his web site; look more to the number of years of experience he has in practicing federal criminal defense law, and never hire a criminal defense attorney until you have seen his office and checked out his credentials. Contact one of the most respected criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles, California, Joseph Shemaria, today!

MYTH: Former federal prosecutors make better federal criminal defense attorneys

Many believe that former federal prosecutors make better federal criminal defense attorneys. That simply is a myth. Past experience as a federal prosecutor may or may not equate with the type of experience necessary for an attorney to be an effective criminal defense attorney in the United States District Court. Having been a former federal prosecutor only assures you that your attorney has put away a good number of people just like you. He or she may well have changed and is truly a defense attorney in his or her blood, but be careful–a former federal prosecutor may have just changed hats in order to drive a Mercedes as opposed to a VW.

MYTH: “I've been indicted by the government, why waste money on a criminal defense lawyer?”

Another common myth is many folks think “Well, I've been indicted by the federal government, why should I waste my money on a high priced criminal defense lawyer?” Well, the United States Sentencing Guidelines is one good reason. These guidelines are used by every United States District Court in the country for sentencing purposes. Given the high percentage of convictions in United States District Court, only a seasoned federal criminal defense lawyer can pick apart the Sentencing Guidelines and find exceptions and downward departures that could mean the difference between prison or probation, deportation or remaining in the U.S. In addition, knowing about a “safety valve” can mean avoiding a minimum mandatory prison term.

If you get nothing else from this web site, aside from the fact that the only justice you're ever going to get is the justice your criminal defense lawyer gets for you, you will come out ahead. The entire criminal justice system turns on the performance of your criminal defense lawyer and if he does not perform his job correctly, you can certainly expect to be convicted regardless of whether you're innocent or guilty.

For more information on federal criminal defense law, contact the Law Offices of Joseph Shemaria of Los Angeles, California.