Just because you’re charged with a crime doesn’t mean you have to be convicted (or even have it appear on your permanent record). With a strategic and diplomatic approach, you may be able to get your charges dropped.
The Consequences of a Criminal Conviction
Being charged with a crime might be frustrating, but it’s just the start. If you’re actually convicted, that’s where the real consequences begin. Sure, you know about the possibility of jail time, but a sentencing behind bars (if applicable) is only a direct consequence. There are countless other consequences, possibly including:
- Fines and fees. You can easily spend tens of thousands of dollars in fees, fines, and legal expenses if convicted of a crime. In many cases, this is enough to sink your finances and put you in a very difficult situation that takes years to recover from.
- Employment challenges. Getting hired in a competitive field is already challenging enough. Getting hired when criminal convictions pop up on your background check is even more difficult. A single conviction can totally wreck your career aspirations.
- Loss of privileges. You may lose many of the privileges you take for granted. This includes being able to live wherever you want (with a sex offense), driving privileges, firearm privileges, and even your child custody rights.
- Harsher future penalties. If you face additional charges – or if you ever do in the future – your volition could lead to steeper penalties, fines, and increased jail time.
A criminal conviction always cuts deeper than you think. There’s a lot on the line, and you can’t afford to sit back and hope that situation goes away. If you’re charged with a crime, no matter how small or serious, you have to fight back.
How to Get Your Charges Dropped
The best possible outcome is to get your charges dropped. Believe it or not, there are several ways you can make this happen. Here are some suggestions:
- Hire the Right Attorney
Let’s be clear about one thing: This isn’t something you do on your own. For instance, when you’ve been charged with a crime in Phoenix, would it be possible to keep your mental sanity and fight for yourself as an experienced lawyer would do? No, you cannot win this battle alone! Though you certainly have the right to represent yourself, doing so is foolish and nearsighted. It makes you vulnerable and puts your case at risk. You need to hire an attorney. (More specifically, you need to hire the right attorney.)
When hiring a criminal defense attorney, look for someone who is aggressive and experienced – not someone who is going to patiently sit back and wait for everything to fall into place. You need an attorney who goes to bat for you and proactively explores every possible avenue for defense as soon as possible.
- Prove a Lack of Probable Cause
This is one of the first defenses to consider. In order to make a lawful arrest, police must have probable cause to believe that you actually committed a crime. They can’t make an arrest based on a gut feeling of suspicion. There have to be some reasonable assumptions and objective facts in place.
For example, let’s say there’s a robbery in a neighborhood and the homeowner gives police a description of a 6’5″ white male wearing black clothes and walking away on foot. You’re a 5’10” female wearing white clothes riding a bike in the next neighborhood over. Police see you and arrest you simply because you’re the first person they see. There would be no probable cause to arrest. Now, if they would have found a 6’5″ white male wearing black clothes running away from them with a backpack full of stuff, then they would have every right to stop him and question him (and possibly make an arrest). In one situation, there’s probable cause. In the other, there is none.
- Contest the Legality of the Search
Police have the right to stop and question you if they have reasonable suspicion that you’ve committed some sort of crime. However, there are restrictions on what they can do. For example, law enforcement officers only have a right to search you, your vehicle, or any of your other property if very specific conditions are met. For example, police can’t forcibly enter your home without a warrant. If they ignore these rules and enter without your permission, any evidence they obtain may be dismissed.
- Take a Plea Bargain
Another option is to take a plea bargain by agreeing to lesser charges and lesser consequences. This might hurt your pride, but it’s often the best way to keep a serious criminal charge off your record.
Adding it All Up
A criminal charge is one thing. You don’t want a criminal record. And if you already have a criminal record, you certainly don’t want to pile another conviction on top. From the jail time and fines to employment difficulties and restrictions of basic rights like child custody, the consequences are stiff. Thankfully, there are ways to fight back. Hire an attorney and use the other tips in this article to get your charges dropped!Infographic Created By Zoukis Consulting Group – Dedicated Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer