The Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog has been warning you it could happen.
It has suddenly happened…and it was the last thing you expected. You (or a loved one) have been arrested.
You came home tonight after work and, just as you were sitting down to eat, you received company at your door. The company was dressed in blue. They had a colorful car with a pretty red light on top of it.
They told you that they were there to arrest you.
You first thought it was a joke. But then you noticed that they did not seem like the humorous type.
And then they produced the Commonwealth Bracelets of Shame.
And off you went downtown, trying to remember what you had heard about the realities of Massachusetts bail hearings.
Attorney Sam’s Take On Getting Arrested In Massachusetts
Whether you like it or not, it is not terribly difficult to get arrested these days in Massachusetts.
Yes, of course, you could take the easy road and actually commit a crime. However, you could also have angered the wrong person. You could have made a momentary error of judgment. There could be, simply put, simply a mistake being made.
The point is…what do you do when it happens?
“Sam, you always tell us that ‘It depends’ and that every case is different.”
This is true. However, there are some general things that you should expect regardless of whether you have been charged with a Cambridge Murder or a Newton Drunk Driving charge.
Now, today’s blog assumes that whatever criminal investigation was going on has been completed on the part of the Commonwealth and the authorities have decided to actually arrest you. We can deal with the realities of being investigated later. However, there is one thing regarding investigations when you are arrested.
You must not assume that the investigation that led to your arrest is over!
Should you be willing to talk and try to out-wit or out-reason the police upon your arrest, you will probably find them more than willing to comply. They would love to have you make all kinds of voluntary statements that can thereafter be hung around your throat at trial.
“But, Sam, what if I am actually innocent? Telling them the truth will probably set their investigation on the right track and set me free, right?”
This is still a pretty widespread belief. Unfortunatly, it is seldom, if ever, true. I only say “seldom” because nothing is impossible in criminal justice. However, I can tell you that in over a quarter century practicing criminal law, I have yet to see a case where someone did not make a statement…yet wished they had.
Usually it is the reverse. In fact, I have had cases where, but for statements made by my soon-to-be-client, there would have been no admissible evidence against them and so they would have been looking at a dismissal.
“If I am telling the truth, how can it hurt me at trial if I am not guilty?”
You must understand that the “truth” you tell the officers is your truth. Their truth has already been decided…you are guilty. That part of the investigation is over. Therefore, your statement will be treated as either a partial confession or something to either twist or otherwise show to be untrue.
Remember…they live to catch the “bad guy”. In their eyes, you are the “bad guy” in this case. This is not going to change just because you feel you are convincing. Also, keep in mind that, particularly in times of stress, people make mistakes. They may remember details wrong. They may seem inconsistent. All these things will be mistatements that the prosecution will now seek in your statement.
If there are any such errors, then they will not be considered errors. They will be consideered lies.
And who lies, as far as the system is concerned?
People who have to lie to try to get out of trouble…you got it, the “bad guys”.
“Okay, so I will not make any statements. What do I do…just quietly let them fingerprint me, ask about my background, search me and throw me into a cell?”
That is preciesly what you do. You also make a call as soon as possible to a loved one to arrange for bail and to immediately get in touch with an experineced criminal defense attorney.
“What if the case is really a nothing type of thing…either a minor crime or one that I just know is going to be dismissed as soon as the prosecutors look into it?”
Respectfully, you are dreaming. Any criminal charge, once you have been arraigned goes on your record. That takes it out of the “nothing” category. Further, this case is serious enough that the Commonwealth decided to arrest you rather than simply send you a summons. Finally, the prosecutors have looked into the matter as much as they are going to in determining your innocence.
They decided that you are lacking in the innocence department.
TOMORROW: What If You Were Arrested On A Warrant?