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These 7 Mistakes Can Help Your Criminal Case

There are many ways to defend against Galveston criminal charges. Sometimes, our lawyers will find alibi witnesses who testify that you were nowhere near the crime scene on the day in question. In other cases, we can find physical evidence that links someone else to the crime.

We can also use mistakes by the police, prosecution, or even the judge to your benefit. Sometimes, these mistakes cast serious doubt on the credibility of witnesses or physical evidence. In other situations, a judge won’t let the prosecution introduce evidence if the police made a mistake.

Mistake #1: Police Stop You without Reasonable Suspicion

You have a constitutional right to move about freely, and police cannot stop you just because they want to. Instead, they need reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime to stop you. In particular, they need to be able to articulate specific facts that support their belief that you might be committing a crime.

If the police stop you without any reasonable suspicion, you can ask that a judge toss everything, including the criminal charges. A judge will hold a hearing to review.

Mistake #2: Police Perform an Illegal Interrogation

The police can typically ask anyone questions, but there are some limits that apply:

  • Police can’t interrogate you in custody until they give Miranda warnings.
  • Police cannot continue to ask you questions once you say you want an attorney present.
  • Police can’t coerce statements out of you.

If the police perform an illegal interrogation, we can ask the judge to suppress any statements you made. Even if you confessed, the state can’t introduce that statement in their case if the police didn’t follow the law.

Mistake #3: Police Reports Contain False Information

A police officer might have done a really sloppy job of filling out a police report. The report could contain multiple errors that cast doubt on its credibility. Or the officer testifies on the stand to something that the report contradicts. Either way, we can play up for the jury that there is confusion about what happened.

Mistake #4: There Are Gaps in the Chain of Custody

Physical evidence collected at the scene must be properly collected and processed. In particular, police need to establish the chain of custody, including the time and location of when the evidence was collected and who collected it.

Critical physical evidence for criminal trials includes:

  • Weapons used in the crime
  • Fingerprints at the crime
  • DNA evidence
  • Hairs or fibers at the scene or on the victim
  • Blood or urine samples

Gaps or breaks in the chain of custody arise when police are sloppy in their documentation. When there are gaps in the chain of custody, we can’t really be sure the evidence is really from the crime scene or something the police planted.

Mistake #5: Prosecution Lies to the Judge

All lawyers must be honest in their communications with a judge. Prosecutors have the same duty. Sometimes, prosecutors make misrepresentations to the judge, either orally or in their written submissions. For example, they might say they turned over all evidence to the defense to review when they really didn’t.

Often, prosecutors try to minimize any misrepresentations by claiming they were confused or simply misspoke. They might even blame a junior lawyer in their office for not having all the facts before speaking to the judge.

Mistake #6: Prosecution Comments on Your Refusal to Testify

You have the right not to testify against yourself, and the prosecution shouldn’t offer any commentary on that fact. Unfortunately, some prosecutors slip up and mention it in their closing statement. We can actually ask for a new trial when a prosecutor makes this error. A judge might claim it was harmless, but we are sometimes successful. If we can get a mistrial, some prosecutors will drop the charges.

Mistake #7: Judge Lets in Unfairly Prejudicial Evidence

Most evidence in a trial is prejudicial to a defendant because it shows they are guilty. But a judge should keep out evidence that is “unfairly” prejudicial. This is usually inflammatory evidence that doesn’t really show whether you are guilty of the charges. Instead, the testimony tries to bias a juror against you.

For example, the prosecution might try to introduce evidence that you wrote 4 bad checks in 2015. But that has nothing to do with your sex assault trial. The judge should exclude this evidence as unfairly prejudicial and irrelevant besides. However, if a judge lets that type of evidence in, we can request a new trial.

Get a Galveston Criminal Defense Attorney’s Assistance

Anyone facing criminal charges will benefit from an experienced lawyer who can comb through the evidence and find errors. Call Tad Nelson & Associates for a free consultation.