Criminal Charges Do Not Always Mean Getting A Criminal RecordPublished: Mar 16, 2016, by in Assault & Battery, Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes, DUI, Legal Blog, Property Crimes, Theft, Traffic
Few things are as stressful as getting charged with a crime. From the humiliation of getting arrested, to the inconvenience of court appearances, to the prospect of jail time and fines, facing the criminal justice system can turn your life upside down. If you get convicted of a crime, you will get a permanent entry on your criminal record that can keep you from getting a job, owning a firearm, or going to school.
Fortunately, a skilled Chicago criminal defense attorney working at your side can help you avoid the harshest consequences of a criminal conviction. He or she may be able to obtain the dismissal of your charges, a victory at trial, or a deal with the prosecutor for a conviction of a lesser crime. And even if you do get a conviction, your crime may qualify for the expungement or sealing of your criminal record.
Don’t Give Up Hope If You’ve Been Charged With a Crime
Your lawyer may be able to have the charges against you dismissed, which means that you “win” your case even before it goes to trial. The prosecutor must have enough evidence in his or her case to make it worth the state’s time and money to put you on trial. If your lawyer can convince the judge that there isn’t enough evidence against you, your charges may get dismissed.
One strategy for obtaining the dismissal of your charges is filing a motion to suppress the prosecution’s evidence. If the motion to suppress is successful, the judge will order that some pieces of the prosecution’s evidence be removed from the case. When this happens, the prosecutor is often left without enough evidence to make a case against you. This leaves your lawyer in a position to request the dismissal of your charges.
Your Lawyer Can Challenge the Prosecutor’s Evidence Against You
Filing a motion to suppress the prosecution’s evidence may be an option in your case in the following situations:
- The police failed to respect your Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. For example, they searched your house without a warrant or pulled your car over without reasonable suspicion you were committing a crime.
- The police denied your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent by failing to inform you that your words could and would be used against you.
- You clearly requested that you wanted a lawyer but the police continued to interrogate you and obtained incriminating statements—which violates your Sixth Amendment Rights.
If successful, the motion to suppress will result in the removal of any evidence obtained because of the authorities’ illegal conduct.
You Can Beat the Prosecution’s Charges at Trial
The prosecution must prove every element of its case beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that if you’ve been charged with drug possession, for example, the prosecution must present evidence that is so convincing that no reasonable person could doubt that:
- You had a controlled substance in your possession or under your control
- You knew that the substance was illegal
- The substance was actually illegal
This is a difficult burden to meet. If your lawyer can show that there is some doubt as to even one of these elements, the jury will be instructed to enter a verdict of not guilty. For example, if your lawyer presents evidence that the equipment used to test the drugs was deficient, or that the crime lab has a history of not following procedures, there may be a reasonable doubt as to whether the substance in your possession was an illegal drug.
A Good Lawyer Can Get You on the Jury’s Good Side
Juries do not always follow the judge’s instructions. If the defense has proved there is a reasonable doubt as to an element of the prosecution’s case, the jury still has the ability to enter a verdict of guilty—in defiance of the judge’s instructions. In fact, some legal professionals believe that most juries utterly disregard their instructions and come to their conclusions based on their gut feeling—or prejudices.
Conversely, juries may be persuaded to enter a verdict of not-guilty even when the evidence overwhelmingly points towards your guilt. One of the most famous examples of a jury’s ability to derail the prosecution is the trial of OJ Simpson, who received a verdict of not guilty from a jury that deeply sympathized with him—despite the fact that he almost certainly was guilty.
A lawyer’s ability to portray you as a good person fighting an unfair criminal justice system can have a strong effect on the jury. Your attorney’s charisma and ability to tell a story is often just as important as his or her knowledge of the law. Attorney Michael S. O’Meara has both the experience and trial advocacy skills to get you excellent results when facing criminal charges.
How a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You
Although you don’t need a lawyer to obtain the sealing or expungement of your criminal records, your chances of success will be greater if you hire one to file the petition on your behalf. To learn more about expungement, record sealing, or how to defend against your criminal charges, call Chicago defense attorney Mike O’Meara today at 312-909-0706 for a free and confidential consultation of your case.