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Useful Facts You Should Know About the Criminal Process
The law is something that is there to protect us, but people tend to view the law in various ways. Some officials tend to misuse their rights and there are occasions where a totally innocent person is subjected to a criminal process. I am not suggesting that such a thing happens often, but it does happen. In order to be on top of your game, you should keep yourself informed. That way, you can be sure that you will know how to react, regardless of the scenario. So, here are some facts that you have to keep in your head.
A stop is NOT an arrest!
Some people are afraid of law enforcements. When a law enforcement stops them for a routine check, they get scared, because they immediately assume they did something wrong. This will look like you do actually have something to hide. You become suspicious and you don’t want to be suspicious. That’s why you should know that when an officer stops you, you should stay calm. However, you are not required by law to answer the officer’s questions, nor is he or she allowed to interrogate you unless there is “probable cause”.
What is “probable cause”?
This is a tricky question, since it is up to the official to decide whether or not a particular situation will be labeled as such. That is why, even if the officer approaches you aggressively, because he or she thinks that you are “the culprit”. You must keep calm. For example, if you get pulled over, but you know that you were driving according to the limit and according to the rules of the road, remember these two words – NO CONSENT. You see, you cannot go against the officer’s opinion of “probable cause” at this point in the criminal process. So, even if he or she searches you (or your car), you had no consent, so you’re good, as they say. The official will have no reason to arrest you.
What happens if you do get arrested?
There are cases where a certain individual was at the wrong place, at the wrong time. For example, in England, fans of different football clubs tend to organize group fights at random places in the city, since, if they make a scene in the stadium, their team gets suspended for the season. A person can get caught up in the fuss and end up in custody.
What to do now?
When you do end up in police custody, you have to remember that, without your lawyer, you can remain completely silent. If you do not have your own attorney, one will be appointed to you. But, as you know, anything you say may as well be used against you, when you get trialed. So, be careful. Contact a lawyer and let him or her take you through every step of the way.
How do I plead?
You have 3 options – guilty, not guilty and no contest. The “not guilty” option implies that you will be going to court, and the rest… well, they imply that you are going to jail. If you plead not guilty, you will have the right to defend your plead in front of a judge and a jury. It is imperative that you cooperate with your lawyer, tell him or her exactly what happened and, if your story checks out, you will have nothing to worry about. If you lose the case, you will enter the criminal record. You will be kept in police custody, until you get transferred to jail to serve your sentence.
All in all, keep yourself informed!
The law differs from country to country, from state to state. If you want to be on top of your game, you should do a bit of research. You are a person with rights and no one can take that away from you. The system may not be perfect, but we have to live with it.
I hope that this piece of text served its purpose. To end, all I can say is this – if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about. Period!