Alabama’s criminal law proceedings can easily seem like an overwhelming labyrinth. There are so many twists and turns and intricate details that one must know to navigate such a complex situation. This is why it is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney to walk you through every step. Phillips and Sellers Attorneys at Law has over 22 years of experience in Georgia and Alabama criminal law proceedings. While we hope you never need a criminal defense attorney, we realize that things happen.
Here are 7 facts about Alabama criminal law that you need to know.
Wrongful Convictions Are More Common Than You Think
The criminal justice system is far from perfect. It is estimated that approximately 2-5% of prisoners in the US were wrongfully convicted. That may not seem like a huge deal, but with over two million people in prison in the US, that means that over 40,000 of them are likely innocent. With that in perspective, you must have an experienced criminal defense attorney representing you in your criminal law case.
Eyewitness Are Not Always Reliable
Although eyewitness testimonies are a common event in criminal law proceedings, they are not the most reliable source of evidence. In the heat of the moment and under the pressure of the court system, even honest and sincere people can make devastating mistakes in their testimony or identification. This can easily lead to a wrongful conviction if the jury believes the testimony. The credibility of eyewitness testimonies also diminishes over time; the more time that has passed since the event occurred, the less credible eyewitness testimony is in court.
Ignorance May be Excusable in Court
There is a slim possibility that ignorance of the law may be excusable in court. Depending on the severity of the broken law and how recently it was implemented, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help your case. Each year, thousands of new laws are passed that you probably have never heard of. If a defendant is charged with violating a newly enforced law that criminalizes an action that is completely lawful in other places, there is a chance that the defendant may assert ignorance as a feasible defense.
Know Your Statute of Limitations
You may have heard of the statute of limitations, but knowing exactly what they are can help you and your criminal law attorney with your case. A statute of limitations is the law that sets the maximum amount of time that parties involved in a dispute have to initiate court proceedings from the date of the offense. The keyword here is initiate. In Alabama, misdemeanors have a statute of limitations of 12 months and most felonies have a statute of limitations of 5 years. This means that if the court proceedings have not begun within the time frame of the statute of limitations, you cannot be charged with the offense.
It is important to note that some felonies such as capital murder, sex offenses with a minor, felony forgery, and counterfeiting offenses do not have a statute of limitations. If the court begins its proceedings within that time frame, you cannot use the statute of limitations as a defense. For example, if after committing a crime, you hideaway for 5 years. If the court has already attained an arrest warrant or indictment against you before the statute of limitations runs out, you will still be convicted of the crime even after 5 years.
Insanity Probably Will Not Help You
The well-known insanity plea is probably not the answer you are looking for either. In fact, the insanity plea is used in less than 1% of all court cases. From that 1%, only 26% of those pleas we successful. The insanity plea is often viewed as an excuse defense instead of a justification defense. Of the 26% of successful insanity plea cases, 90% of the defendants had been previously diagnosed with a mental illness. Although the insanity plea may be a staple in crime TV dramas, you would be better off pursuing other avenues.
It’s Not Like TV
Unfortunately, binge-watching CSI, Law, and Order, or Criminal Minds will not help you very much in your criminal court proceedings. Everything from the forensic technology that our favorite crime-fighting TV stars use to the way the courtroom is run is different in real life. Forensic technology is not always as reliable as it appears on TV and people make mistakes. Finding a criminal law attorney that is experienced in real-life criminal law proceedings can make the difference in your case.
You Have Constitutional Rights to an Attorney
If you’ve ever paid attention to the Miranda rights, you have heard the phrase “You are entitled to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed for you.” This is true! Under the sixth amendment to the United States Constitution, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to… have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”
Find Your Alabama Criminal Law Attorney Today
Knowing all of this, you should feel a little more informed about what to expect in the criminal court system. Finding an experienced attorney to represent you is the smartest move you can make when being charged with a criminal offense. Phillips and Sellers Attorneys at Law have over 22 years of experience in criminal defense law.
Contact our law office today to find an experienced criminal defense expert that will help you!