Many people who are subject to arrest by a police officer feel confident about their rights in the early stages of the process. They tell themselves and anyone who will listen that the officer must have made some kind of mistake. However, a day or a weekend in state custody could have them feeling quite different.
If a prosecutor goes to court and tells a judge that they feel confident that they can build a case against that person, someone who previously asserted their innocence may start to worry about the possibility of a criminal conviction. Quite a few people who know they did not break the law end up pleading guilty specifically because they believe that they cannot risk going to trial, as the prosecutor may have filed multiple charges or the most serious criminal allegations they could justify.
Many people assume that a conviction is inevitable if a prosecutor has enough evidence to bring charges against them. What they may not realize is that there are ways for defendants to raise questions about the state’s evidence and to potentially avoid a conviction.
Police may have broken the law
One of the more common reasons that the state’s evidence won’t lead to a conviction is that the police officers collected that evidence either violated the law or an individual’s rights during their investigation. Perhaps they searched someone without probable cause or consent, which might then make whatever evidence they gathered unusable in criminal court.
The exclusionary rule is an extension of the Fourth Amendment that protects people from the courts allowing the use of evidence gathered through the misconduct of police officers. An attorney can challenge the inclusion of any evidence gathered through police misconduct and potentially reduce someone’s chances of a criminal conviction.
The state may have misinterpreted the evidence
It is much more common than people realize for laboratories and forensic specialists to make mistakes. Perhaps they believe in junk science, like blood spatter analysis, or maybe there simply wasn’t an adequate review of the evidence but rather a rush to a specific conclusion. Criminal defendants can bring in their own expert witnesses who review the state’s case and who can help raise questions about the accuracy of the evidence or the weigh the state interpreted it.
Essentially, even a case backed by seemingly strong evidence could still present opportunities for a strong criminal defense. Reviewing the evidence the state has gathered with a skilled attorney is often a good starting point for those hoping to fight charges and prove their innocence.