6 Things About Criminal Law Everyone Needs to Know – Guest Post

Criminal Law

Yes, you’re a law-abiding citizen. Yes, you’re well aware of the actions that can get you into trouble with the police. Yes, you know you shouldn’t drink and drive, steal, cheat anyone, and pay your taxes on time. Even though you do steer clear of any wrongdoing, leave alone committing a crime, you can unwittingly get involved in a criminal charge without having done anything wrong. The charges can be dropped later if there’s no proof and the entire situation is an error.

However, the incident will remain on your permanent record and affect your future unless you get your felony expunged. Here’s some added information about criminal law that every citizen should know. Just in case you or a friend or family member is subjected to the legal justice system.

You Must Never Resist Arrest or Misbehave with a Law Officer

If a law enforcement officer ever stops you, never resist arrest or misbehave even if you’re absolutely certain you did not do anything wrong. Follow all the instructions the officer gives you and answer all questions as asked. Provide identification and vehicle registration papers on demand. Remember to be respectful and agreeable even if you’re taken to the station and processed.

You May Want to Refuse to Take the Field Sobriety Test

If you’re stopped on suspicion of drinking and driving or DUI charges, you have the right to refuse to take the balance test. However, in many states, on receiving a driver’s license, it is inferred consent that you’ll take a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) test whenever asked. Refusing to take one means that you stand to lose your driving privileges for up to 12 months. But, if the test registers a minimum of 0.8%, you could face even more serious consequences. Without the test results, the prosecutor will have to rely on other evidence to prove your guilt. Incidentally, most field sobriety or balance tests are designed to result in failure.

You Should Invoke Your Right to Remain Silent

The law entitles citizens to the right to remain silent. When facing arrest, do not answer questions or give out any information that can incriminate you or be used as evidence against you. You may only give out your name and identification, and then, request that you’re allowed to contact a lawyer. Even if the officers seem friendly and genuinely concerned about resolving the matter, waiting for a lawyer is advisable. An attorney will inquire into the exact nature of the charges against you and offer advice on what to do next. Most importantly, never try to explain your way out of a sticky situation and certainly not in court. Always rely on an experienced attorney to present arguments on your behalf.

You Need Not Permit Law Enforcement to Search Your Premises

You have the right to refuse law enforcement officers to search your house without a court order. You’ll shut the door and contact a lawyer immediately for directions on what to do next. If they do have a warrant, you must fully cooperate with them and offer whatever information they need.

You Should be Cautious About Social Media Postings

Before posting images and accounts of your activities on social media, you might want to consider if they can be used as evidence against you. Any activity and proof of location can be determined with the help of tools like time and date stamps, and IP addresses, to name a few. Innocent acts can be targeted in any courtrooms, from municipal to common courts.

Dismissed Charges May Not End of the Matter

Don’t assume that dismissed charges are the end of the issue. Criminal charges become a part of your permanent record. Any person conducting a background check can learn about the incident in your past. This can become a problem when you apply for a job or college admission, or wish to rent a home or get a mortgage. Several jobs may be denied to you because of the black mark. Further, your chances of adopting a child or getting custody of your kids can also be impacted.

No citizen intends to commit a crime, but if you do get involved in a brush with the law, here’s what you should know.