If there was anyone doubting the value of an experienced and dedicated criminal defense attorney if arrested for a crime, they should think twice. Prosecutors are keen to get a conviction and are not on your side.
First arrests can be especially intimidating and it may be hard to know what to say or do to avoid incriminating yourself further. Prosecutors can be adept at seizing on words you say and turning them against you.
Criminal defense attorneys have several strategies they can use to minimize a sentence or have your charge dismissed altogether. You cannot be convicted for a crime unless there is proof beyond reasonable doubt that you committed it. Below are ten ways a defense attorney can keep you out of jail and any
#1 Miranda rights not read
If when you were arrested police failed to remind you of your right to remain silent or deprived you of your right to an attorney any evidence they have against you, whether it is legitimate or not may not be admissible in court.
#2 No search warrant presented
In most cases, if police wish to search you, your clothes or other property, including your car or your home, they must obtain a legitimate search warrant. If you are confronted by police and they attempt to carry out a search, you should politely ask to see a warrant, but otherwise not prevent them. If arrested, let your attorney know that there was no search warrant shown. Any evidence obtained during such a search may not be admissible.
#3 You were not aware that you were committing a crime
Under Alaska law, ignorance of the law is not a valid defense. However, there are circumstances in which you might have made a genuine mistake and did not realize this could be construed as a crime. Usually, prosecutors must show that you had intent to carry out a crime to get a conviction.
#4 No proof beyond reasonable doubt
Prosecutors have what is called a ‘burden of proof’ when attempting to convict you. They must show to a judge or jury that the evidence they have against you is convincing, i.e. that it shows that there is no doubt that you carried out a crime. It is the defense attorney’s job to show that there is a gap in the evidence. This is a common defense when the allegation of a crime has been made using hearsay. It is not your job or your attorney’s to have to prove that you are innocent.
#5 You had an alibi
When you have an alibi it means that there is proof that you were not in the location at the time a crime was alleged to have been committed. Alibis are hard to establish if you don’t have reliable witnesses, and if you are caught actually in the process of carrying out a crime, then you can’t provide an alibi. Alibis can be substantiated by witnesses as well as video footage (e.g. security cameras in buildings or streets), computer and phone records and credit card transactions.
This line of defense is unlikely to have you free of any criminal charges. It means that you had been involved in planning a crime (e.g. as part of a larger group), but withdrew or ‘abandoned’ the carrying out of the crime beforehand. You could still be charged with conspiracy to carry out a crime even if your abandonment defense is accepted.
#7 Statute of limitations
Most crimes in Alaska must be resolved within a specific time limit from when they are alleged to have occurred. This time limit does not apply to the worst or most heinous of crimes like murder. The statute of limitations for misdemeanors is usually 5 years, meaning that you cannot be convicted for a crime in this category more than 5 years after it has been alleged to have been committed. For more serious offences, such as rape, the statute of limitations is 10 years.
#8 You were set up by others
In some circumstances you may not have actually carried out a crime or knew anything about it, but were arrested because there was evidence found that incriminated you. This evidence might have been planted on you by someone else maliciously or for some other reason. Again, prosecutors must be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you knew about whatever it was that you were found with and had deliberately carried out a crime and later found with the evidence.
#9 You were defending yourself
Alaska is one of a number of states that has what is called colloquially a ‘stand your ground’ law. This means that if you injure or kill someone else with deadly force in your own self defense you cannot be convicted. The intention was to allow people to defend themselves when confronted with a situation in which they thought they faced grave danger without having to retreat or flee. The law has been controversial in other states as some think it allows some people to go on the offensive when it is not necessary.
#10 You were defending someone else
This is an extension of the last defense, so that if you injure or use deadly force against a person threatening someone else near you, you have the right under law to defend that person without retreating.
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime you did not commit or believe that you have been misrepresented, you will need to seek legal assistance from a dedicated and experienced criminal defense attorney. In Anchorage, contact the Law Office of Dattan Scott Dattan as soon as you have been arrested. He will fight to represent you in court. Call Dattan Scott Dattan’s office in Anchorage at 907-276-8008.