If you have been accused of murder, you most likely are already viewed in the public eye as a menace to society. Crimes of this severity don’t go unnoticed and are rarely forgotten, even if you are acquitted. This means that you are watched carefully under a microscope in everything you do, especially during the interrogation and trial process. If you have been falsely accused of a murder, the steps you take leading up to the trial can make the difference between a false conviction and freedom. Here are 5 things you should never do if you are accused of murder.
1. Do Not Speak to Officers without a Lawyer
This is one of the most important pieces of advice you need to follow. The police’s and prosecution’s job is to convict you of the crime you have been accused of, and many police officers only interrogate people they truly believe committed the crime. Although you may think they are trying to help, and they will try and make you believe that with plea deals, their goal is to convict you of this murder and will do whatever it takes to do so. Murder is the most serious charge possible and can result in life imprisonment or the death penalty. By giving up valuable evidence before the trial, you are only giving the prosecution more time to work out a plan to dismiss your evidence and convict you of murder.
2. Do Not Rush Your Decision of a Lawyer
Choosing the right lawyer is key to your murder trial. Not all lawyers are experienced with serious crimes like murder and may not be able to defend you properly in the court of law. Be sure to do your research before selecting your lawyer to not only ensure they have experience with murder trials, but have proven successful at them as well. Once you have done your research, speak with the lawyer to discuss your case and get their expert advice on how to carry yourself until the trial. Also make sure the lawyer cares about you as a human being and not just as another paying client. You need to have someone who cares about you and your freedom during the trial in order to provide the best defense possible.
3. Do Not Give Up an Alibi
You may have a solid alibi that will relieve you of your accused crime; however, do not give it up thinking it will set you free. Like the first piece of advice, keep this information between you and your attorney until they say it is okay to reveal it. When you give up an alibi, you are only giving the prosecution time to find ways to beat your claim. Under the U.S. Constitution, you have the right to remain silent and you should utilize this right. The words you say before the trial may be used against you in court, but your silence cannot.
4. Do Not Speak with the Media
For crimes like murder, the media will try to contact you for comment. Avoid speaking about the trial at all costs as it will only hurt your case. This includes using social media, as it has become a major source of news media itself. The media will create a buzz around your trial altering the perception of the public and often those on the jury. Your best chance for a successful trial is to avoid having the public perception against you as it may sway the trial and jury. Even if you strongly believe you can convince the media that you were falsely accused, this will not help your case in any way.
5. Do Not Forget to Take Care of Yourself
Beyond all the legal issues and public scrutiny you will have to deal with, your mental health will also be compromised during these trying times. When on trial for murder, it will feel like the world is against you, and the process may take months or longer to come to completion. Find ways to reduce stress and clear your head by exercising, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and surrounding yourself with a positive support group. This will help you keep a level head during the trial and events leading up to the trial.
Being accused of murder is a serious and life changing event. Even if you are acquitted of the crime, you will have a stigma placed on you for years to come. The steps you take before your trial can make the difference between a false conviction and your freedom. With all the stress and public scrutiny placed on you, you may be tempted to try and plea your way out of the conviction before the trial begins. Avoid making this decision at all costs as it will only be used against you during your trial. Releasing your evidence and alibi to officers can only hurt you during the investigation and trial, and should only be released after the approval of an attorney. The most important thing you can do before your trial is remain silent and consult a good lawyer.
About the Author
David R. Jones is a criminal defense attorney at the Denver and Golden, Colorado-based Law Offices of D.R. Jones. A former Colorado State Public Defender, Mr. Jones earned his law degree from the University of Denver, College of Law and was admitted to the Colorado Bar in 1996. He is a member of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, National Association of Trial Advocacy, and is active in community efforts to improve the criminal justice system.