Because many people arrested for criminal offenses in Kansas have had minimal contact with the courts prior to their first arrest, they may be unfamiliar with their legal rights and the criminal justice system. This lack of experience can be particularly damaging when combined with misconceptions fostered by procedural dramas on television and other unrealistic depictions of law enforcement and the criminal process. The cost of not understanding one’s legal rights when facing a criminal investigation, search or arrest can be a long period of incarceration in county jail or state prison that could have been avoided had the individual responded differently when interacting with law enforcement authorities. In this multi-installment blog, Kansas criminal defense attorney Stacey Schlimmer has attempted to dispel some of the common myths that may be the reason for a conviction or more serious criminal sentence.
Myth #1: If the police fail to Mirandize you, you cannot be convicted.
The failure to provide a Miranda warning or one that is sufficiently defective may provide the basis to exclude any statements made by you to police after you have been taken into custody. However, voluntary spontaneous utterances as well as those made prior to the point you are in custody may be used against you in a criminal case. This basic rule means that it is generally inadvisable to talk to the police without an attorney present regardless of whether you have received a Miranda warning. It is also important to keep in mind that the police may have other evidence such as direct physical evidence, circumstantial evidence or witness testimony which can be used by the prosecutor to obtain a conviction even if statements made by you are excluded because of a Miranda violation.
Myth #2: If you cooperate during an interrogation, the police and prosecutor will be more inclined to be lenient than if you retain an attorney and refuse to answer questions.
This is a common misrepresentation that police rely on to persuade suspects to waive their constitutional rights to an attorney and against self-incrimination. The information you provide will be used by the police and prosecutor to accumulate more evidence and build a more compelling criminal case. If the prosecutor has a stronger case, it can lead to a greater number of charges, more severe charges and minimal motivation for the prosecutor to negotiate a lenient plea bargain. There is no better way to reduce the risk of a conviction and lengthy period of incarceration than to immediately and emphatically indicate that you will not talk to anyone until your criminal attorney is present.
We invite you to continue reading the subsequent installments of this multi-part blog post. If you have specific questions about your particular situation, we invite you to arrange a consultation with our experienced Kansas criminal defense team. Kansas criminal defense attorney Stacey Schlimmer provides zealous defense of her clients charged with crimes in Kansas. Our Johnson County criminal defense law firm offers a confidential free consultation so call us today at 913-219-5424 or contact us online.