Seven Myths About New Mexico Criminal Cases
Many defendants believe a wide range of criminal case myths can hamper their ability to make prudent decisions about their case. If you get charged with a crime, it’s crucial that you keep your individual interests at the forefront of your mind—no matter what you hear from friends, family, or acquaintances. Unfortunately, misconceptions in criminal cases can cause defendants to make decisions that ultimately do them a great deal of harm.
By hiring an experienced criminal charges lawyer with the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, you can ensure that you receive the most accurate and up-to-date information concerning your criminal charges.
#1: The Criminal Justice System Works Quickly and Efficiently
Almost everyone has seen a television series or movie detailing the court process of criminal cases. Myths often arise as a result of the unrealistic expectations created in these programs. Despite what you see on TV, a criminal prosecution can take a long time to reach its conclusion. The idea that someone can face a jury within a week of committing a crime contrasts starkly with the true criminal justice system. Some defendants won’t face charges for their alleged crime for several months after the fact. Even after charges are filed, scheduling a trial takes time. Additionally, the trial itself can span anywhere from one day to several weeks, depending on the amount of evidence each side plans to present.
No matter how straightforward your case is, you can expect the criminal process to take a few months at a minimum. Yes, you do have the right to a speedy trial. Sometimes it is beneficial to insist on a speedy trial, and other times it is not. It can be more advantageous for the defense to take the time to properly prepare a case—particularly one that is going to trial. In reality, more serious charges often take longer to investigate, prepare, and resolve.
But all of this waiting can create a lot of stress and uncertainty for criminal defendants. An experienced criminal charges defense attorney can help keep you at ease. They can advise you of the normal timelines for cases similar to yours and keep you informed as to the progress of your case as it unfolds. While you can’t control the speed of the system, you can control your preparedness by knowing what to expect.
#2: Police Officers Won’t Lie to You
Most people see police officers as protectors of the community. However, if an officer is investigating a crime, their primary concern often involves finding information that proves your guilt. In many cases, the officers conducting an interview give you misleading information to make you feel like they have more evidence than they do. In short, police are allowed to lie to you during interviews to get you to admit guilt or incriminate yourself.
A classic scenario demonstrating the way law enforcement lies to interrogation suspects includes when two suspects are in custody for the same crime. Authorities can tell Suspect A that Suspect B has confessed to the crime and blamed the misconduct on Suspect A, even if Suspect B hasn’t spoken to authorities at all! This is one of the many tactics law enforcement uses to get suspects to turn on one another and confess—even to crimes they did not commit.
As a general rule, you shouldn’t trust anything a police officer tells you once you’re suspected of committing a crime. Always speak to an attorney before saying a word to the police.
#3: Officers Must Read Your Miranda Rights Immediately
Another misconception in criminal cases involves the reading of Miranda rights. Knowing your Miranda rights and understanding how Miranda rights work are two different things. Most people know that Miranda rights encompass your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney. However, Miranda rights only apply to criminal defendants in a custodial setting. This means that they only apply when you are in custody and being questioned by police. Statements you make prior to your arrest or before the police consider you a suspect don’t require a Miranda advisement to make the statements admissible.
#4: Victims Determine Whether or Not to Press Charges
When it comes to charging decisions, crime victims hold little authority. Typically, the victim reports the alleged crime to the police. The police investigate the alleged crime and determine whether probable cause exists to arrest the suspect. The decision of whether to officially file criminal charges rests solely with the prosecution. If the victim of the alleged crime changes his or her mind during this process, the prosecution can file charges regardless of the victim’s wishes. In essence, a victim does not have the authority to “drop the charges” after the police and prosecutors get hold of a case. New Mexico considers crimes offenses against the state itself, not the victim.
#5: Everyone Convicted of a Crime Receives an Automatic Appeal
In some cases, defendants can challenge their criminal conviction based on certain issues in their criminal trial, including:
- The judge interpreted the law incorrectly;
- Errors were made in trial procedure; or
- The verdict was not supported by the evidence.
However, you can’t obtain a criminal appeal just because you want one. You cannot get an appeal because you think the jury got it wrong. You must demonstrate a clear basis for the appeal by providing evidence of one of the specific circumstances listed above.
If you accept a plea offer, an appeal is off the table. When you accept a plea agreement, you waive your right to an appeal absent extreme circumstances.
#6: Only Guilty People Accept Plea Agreements
Plea agreements resolve over 95% of criminal cases. Without plea agreements, the already backlogged criminal justice system would grind to a halt. Inevitably, some innocent people accept plea agreements to avoid the cost and uncertainty of a criminal trial. If you’re facing a criminal conviction that carries a 20-year prison sentence, accepting a plea agreement that sentences you to only a short term on probation could present the best option.
#7: Innocent People Don’t Need Lawyers
A police officer or other official may imply that only guilty parties need a lawyer in criminal cases. Myths like this one couldn’t be further from the truth. Anyone facing a criminal charge with the potential to impact their life needs a criminal defense lawyer.
Facing criminal charges is a serious matter, so hiring an attorney who can guide you through the process is invaluable to your case. Our attorneys at the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices have focused their efforts on defending the rights of clients facing criminal charges since 1997. We have represented clients facing a wide variety of criminal charges at both the federal and state level. Our courtroom experience sets our firm apart from others. We provide each client with individual attention, and we focus our efforts on protecting your rights and getting you the best possible resolution for your case.
Contact our lawyers at 505-200-2982 or contact us using our form to get started on your free consultation.