Charged With a Crime? Have the Police Made a Mistake?
Before they arrest someone, the police may investigate to find out if that person committed a crime and to gather evidence regarding the crime. If you face a criminal charge in the Las Vegas area, you will need to speak with a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer as quickly as possible.
If you are placed under arrest, it does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted of a crime. Law enforcement officers frequently make mistakes during investigations, searches, arrests, and interrogations. Those mistakes sometimes result in a criminal charge being dropped or dismissed.
What are some of the most common mistakes made by police officers? If you are charged with a crime, how will your defense lawyer take advantage of those mistakes? Keep reading this short introduction to the mistakes that police officers sometimes make for the answers you may need.
What Happens When Police Officers Make Mistakes?
When law enforcement officers make mistakes on the job, in some cases, the criminal charge against a defendant may be reduced, dropped by the prosecutor, or dismissed by the court. When the police make mistakes, it can even result in the wrongful arrest of an innocent person.
Below is a list and a brief discussion of the mistakes that law enforcement officers commonly make – and what those mistakes may mean for you if you are placed under arrest and charged with committing a crime in the Las Vegas area.
Mistake #1: Not Reading a Suspect’s Rights
When law enforcement officers take a suspect into police custody, before any interrogation can begin, they must provide that suspect with a Miranda warning. Almost everyone who watches crime movies and TV shows already knows what a Miranda warning is:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law.
- You have the right to an attorney. An attorney will be provided if you cannot afford one.
What you may not know from television and the movies is this: The police may legally make an arrest without reading the Miranda warning to a suspect, and they are not required to read the Miranda warning until they begin to interrogate a suspect who is already in their custody.
Will Your Case Be Dismissed if You Were Not Given a Miranda Warning?
However, before they interrogate a suspect, the police do not always read a Miranda warning, even though they are required to by law. Nevertheless, you always have the right to remain silent, whether or not you are a suspect and whether or not you have been arrested.
Will your case be dismissed if you were not given a Miranda warning? Probably not. It depends on the specific details of the case. However, if the police violated your rights to obtain evidence, your lawyer will seek to have that evidence excluded or “suppressed” if the case goes to trial.
Mistake #2: Not Obtaining or Executing a Search Warrant Lawfully
Search warrants let law enforcement officers search specific locations at specific times and seize specific items of evidence. If the police believe that you are illegally selling drugs from your home, for instance, they may ask a judge to issue a search warrant for the home.
Search warrants cannot be issued on the basis of rumors or hearsay, and they cannot be used for “fishing expeditions” or “blanket” searches. If a search warrant is for a stolen car, for instance, the warrant may permit a search of someone’s garage but not a search inside that person’s home.
When they request and execute arrest and search warrants, law enforcement officers sometimes make the following mistakes:
- exaggerating or fabricating reasons to obtain a search or arrest warrant
- not specifically stating in a search warrant what is being searched for
- seizing items that are not specified by a search warrant
- serving the wrong person or serving a warrant at the wrong location
Mistake #3: Not Securing a Crime Scene Properly
The scene of a crime may contain important physical evidence, so police officers must secure the scene to prevent tampering or any other outside interference with the evidence. The officers must ensure that no one adds fingerprints, hair, footprints, or blood to the crime scene.
Mistake #4: Not Collecting and Handling Evidence Properly
The evidence that police officers collect when they secure and investigate a crime may include fingerprints, footprints, hair, blood, weapons, documents, cash, drugs, alcohol, and other items.
When they gather or photograph evidence, the police must secure and store it properly to avoid losing, contaminating, or damaging it. When crime evidence is not handled appropriately, the proof of a criminal defendant’s innocence or guilt could be lost, damaged, or destroyed.
Mistake #5: The Use of Excessive Force
Law enforcement officers may use “reasonable” force to stop a suspect or to place a suspect under arrest. However, police officers far too frequently use excessive force. Anyone who follows the news knows that claims of police misconduct or police brutality are not unusual.
Excessive force alone may not be enough to have a criminal charge dropped or dismissed, but it could help your Las Vegas criminal defense attorney negotiate for a favorable plea bargain, and you may have grounds to sue the police in civil court for violating your constitutional rights.
How Can Police Mistakes Help You?
These are not the only mistakes that law enforcement officers make on the job, but if you have been charged with a criminal offense in or near the Las Vegas area, any mistakes that the police have made in your case could become the basis of your attorney’s defense strategy.
If you are aware of police mistakes or a violation of your rights, that is the first thing you should tell your Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer. You should be represented by a defense lawyer who has a record of success and a reputation for legal excellence. Your lawyer will:
- gather evidence and question witnesses
- scrutinize and examine the prosecution’s case against you
- negotiate to have the charge or charges against you reduced, dropped, or dismissed
- work to bring your case to its best possible outcome
If you are charged with a felony or a misdemeanor in the Las Vegas area, your freedom and future may hinge on choosing the right defense lawyer. Reach out immediately to a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney who offers reliable legal advice and aggressive defense representation.