Judge's Gavel and Handcuffs on Grey Background

Common Myths About the Criminal Justice System 

McCready Law Group Nov. 3, 2022

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, violent crimes have increased across the state from 2020 to 2021. This means more people are being filtered through our state’s court system and will need qualified legal representation so their rights are protected.  

Unfortunately, there are a number of myths out there about the criminal justice system that can lead to inaccurate expectations for those facing charges and their family and friends who support them through this process. If you or someone you love has recently been arrested and you’d like to speak with a criminal defense attorney in Long Beach, Cypress Hill, or Lakewood, California, call me today at McCready Law Group. 

Myths About the Criminal Justice System 

Myth #1: Everyone Gets One Call  

In popular movies and TV shows, one of the most commonly depicted scenes is when someone is arrested and requests their “one phone call.” However, there is no mention of this right in the U.S. Constitution or state laws. Even so, most jurisdictions will allow you to make one or more calls to a lawyer or family members and friends who need to know your whereabouts.  

It’s important to know that this “right” will look different depending on where and why you’re arrested. It’s also worth noting that these phone calls are almost never private and you should always assume that whatever you say may be used against you. Because of this, you should never say any details that could incriminate you over the phone, even to your lawyer. 

Myth #2: Double Jeopardy  

The rule of double jeopardy is enshrined under the Fifth Amendment. It essentially means you can’t be convicted of the same crime twice. This is an important protection under the Constitution, but there are some notable exceptions that most people are unaware of. One example of this happens if you’re being tried at both the state and federal levels. In these cases, you can have a trial in both courts for the same offense. Two other exceptions to the double jeopardy rule include if you haven’t actually been convicted or acquitted of your crime, or if you’re under arrest and being tried for both the conspiracy to commit the crime and the crime itself. 

Myth #3: Undercover Police Must Identify Themselves  

Another myth that’s often portrayed in movies is that police officers are always required to identify themselves, even if they’re working undercover. This myth is plainly untrue, and there is no such law saying so. It is true that police officers are prohibited from entrapping you (meaning they can’t coerce, threaten, or harass you with the intent of inducing you to commit a crime), but this is a very complicated defense to mount that requires substantial evidence proving the officer acted with ill intent, and simply refusing to identify themselves is not sufficient. 

Myth #4: Quick Resolutions 

Criminal cases can take a long time to make their way through the court system, and many cases will take weeks or months to actually see their way to trial. This is because enough time must be allowed for both the prosecution and the defense to thoroughly investigate the evidence, prepare their case, and complete the pre-trial process. This means that both those facing charges and their lawyers should be prepared for weeks of back and forth, and you should not expect a resolution immediately. 

Work With a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney  

If you’re in the Long Beach, California, area and would like to ask more questions about the criminal justice system, reach out to me at McCready Law Group to speak with a skilled lawyer. I also proudly serve clients located in Cypress Hill and Lakewood.

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