Top Four Myths About Florida Criminal Cases
Unless you have a legal background, a large part of what you know about the criminal process probably comes from TV and movies. While these depictions may be entertaining, they do not always bear a resemblance to how criminal cases really work. Generally, criminal matters proceed according to the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, but there is a lot more to the legal concepts than is written down on paper. You also have constitutional rights, and both statutes and case law may apply. While you should rely upon an experienced Florida criminal lawyer to defend your interests, it may help to clear up the top four myths about criminal cases.
- Prosecutors Cannot Prove Motive: Many criminal defendants believe that motive is a key component in a criminal case, but it is not an element that prosecuting attorneys must prove to get a conviction. Though the specifics vary based upon the offense, there are two general sets of facts a prosecutor will focus on:
- Mens Rea: Latin for a bad state of mind, commonly known as intent in a criminal case; and,
- Actus Reus: Latin for a bad act, which is the criminal offense.
Motive may enter the picture as circumstantial evidence in a criminal case, but it is not necessary for the prosecutor to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Police Must Stop Questioning When You Refuse to Answer: Your constitutional right to remain silent is not the equivalent of forcing police to stop questioning you. In order to assert your civil rights during an interrogation, you should cease responding to questions and invoke your right to have an attorney represent you. Any evidence obtained after this point will not be admissible in court.
Still, even these circumstances will not always stop police from trying to get information out of you. Interrogators may continue on in the hopes of getting details that, even if admissible, could be useful in helping them get a conviction.
- Lack of DNA Evidence is Grounds for Dismissal: DNA test results, fingerprints, and other types of forensic information are not the only sources of evidence that can be used against you in court. A prosecutor can present addition forms of proof, such as:
- The statements and testimony of witnesses and victims;
- Circumstantial evidence;
- Your own statements or admissions;
- Incriminating documents, such as your cell phone records;
- Statements of others regarding your character;
- Surveillance video footage; and,
- Many other types of evidence.
- My Case Will be Dismissed Because No One Read My Rights: The reading of a person’s constitutional rights under Miranda v. Arizona certainly adds drama to film and TV shows, but the real-life scenario is quite different. In practice, police must only read your Miranda rights if you have been arrested, are in custody, and they are seeking to question you.
Talk to a Knowledgeable Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Case
If you have questions about other myths regarding your rights in a criminal case, please contact attorney Kevin J. Kulik. We are happy to schedule a free, confidential consultation at our Fort Lauderdale office.