Sunday, June 25, 2017 01:55

Top Five Misunderstandings about the Criminal Justice System

Top Five Misunderstandings about the Criminal Justice System.  I love law shows on TV, but only for the entertainment value–not because I am looking for tips on how to practice law.  In fact, my friends refuse to watch law shows with me because I can’t resist calling them out whenever they do something that would not fly in real life—which means there is a lot of shouting coming from my direction.  So, in order to help clarify the truth between reality and TV, I have five things most of us have “learned” from TV that are not accurate.

  1. The case has to be dropped because the police illegally searched me, my car, or my house.  FALSE: An illegal search can definitely be a good argument to make in a criminal defense case, but it does not automatically equally a dismissal of the charges. 
  2. If the prosecutors don’t have DNA or video, I can’t get convicted.  FALSE:  While it is certainly easier to be convicted when such evidence is used, the lack of such evidence does not mean that someone cannot be convicted.  With CSI and other law shows on TV, many people have come to think that such evidence is required and is done in every case.  This is simply not true—in many instances, traffic ticket police officerparticularly misdemeanors, it just isn’t cost-effective and in other instances video doesn’t exist and DNA isn’t applicable.  Though not as glamorous confessions, eye-witness statements/identifications and documents are all evidence that can be (and often are) more than legally sufficient to support a conviction. 
  3. If I sign a traffic ticket, it means that I am admitting my guilt.  FALSE: While different states have different laws regarding this issue, Florida law requires a person to sign a traffic ticket.  A willful refusal to sign a summons is a second degree misdemeanor and quite possibly result in being arrested on the spot.  Signing the ticket only serves as a promise to appear and receipt of the citation—it does not admit guilt, nor can guilt be inferred by signing the citation (also known as a summons). 
  4. A victim can refuse to “press charges” or have charges “dropped” at any time. FALSE: In most jurisdictions, these decisions regarding formal charges are within the sole discretion of the prosecutor. While a victim can give input to the prosecutor or even the judge, the prosecution is generally not bound to follow such wishes. Moreover, once the police are called and a report is drafted, the files will almost certainly be forwarded to the prosecutor to decide whether or not to file formal charges.
  5. I have the right to call an attorney before I do Field Sobriety Tests/Exercises or before I blow or give a breath test. FALSE: You don’t. 

If you have run across any of these situations (or any other criminal or traffic matter) and need legal assistance in Oldsmar, Clearwater, Westchase, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Hillsborough County, or anywhere in Florida, please call The Gordon Law Firm to see if we can help. 


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