If you are facing criminal charges in Louisiana, you likely feel overwhelmed and confused about your rights. It's normal to feel this way - there are a lot of myths about the criminal justice system. To help you understand the criminal defense process, attorney Jarrett Ambeau has debunked five common myths about Louisiana criminal defense.
Myth #1: A general/civil lawyer is the same as a criminal defense attorney.
An attorney is licensed and trained to act on behalf of a person or business for general legal matters. There are many different types of law, and most attorneys specialize in one or two practice areas. While your real estate attorney may be knowledgeable in assisting you with property transactions, or your family law attorney may do a great job handling your divorce, they are likely not your best option for criminal defense.
Criminal defense attorneys are grouped into two categories:
- Court-appointed attorneys paid for by the government known as public defenders
- Private lawyers paid for by the accused, known as private criminal defense attorneys
Whether you are represented by a public defender or a private attorney, criminal defense lawyers serve the same purpose when defending those accused of criminal charges.
Criminal defense in Louisiana is governed by a completely different set of procedures and laws from the civil courts. The Code of Criminal Procedure, the Criminal Code (the laws against certain acts), and the Code of Evidence as it applies to criminal proceedings are different than the laws related to civil matters (injury law, contracts, family law, etc.) Because these laws are different, having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side is important if you are subject to the criminal justice system in any way.
Additionally, experienced criminal defense attorneys are generally more adept at the courtroom process. Civil attorneys rarely take matters to trial or conduct meaningful court hearings. An experienced criminal defense attorney will have 100s of substantial hearings and many trials, jury and judge, making them the right choice for a criminal defense case. Hire an attorney with experience, like the criminal defense attorneys at The Ambeau Law Firm.
A criminal defense attorney will fight for your rights and guide you through the legal process when you are:
- Under investigation
- Arrested for a particular criminal act
- Charged with a crime by the district attorney but have not yet been convicted or sentenced
- Indicted by a grand jury
Myth #2: My case must be dismissed if law enforcement did not read my rights.
In Louisiana, the law requires that an arresting officer inform you of your rights. These are your Miranda Rights, established in the U.S. Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona (1966). When a law enforcement officer reads you your Miranda Rights, they inform you of your rights while in police custody. These rights include:
- The right to remain silent
- The right to have an attorney present during questioning
If law enforcement violates your rights during your arrest, this is sometimes grounds for a case to be dismissed. Your case may be dismissed if law enforcement did not inform you of your rights but only if:
- As a result of that violation, evidence is suppressed
- And as a result of the suppression of that evidence, the State has insufficient evidence to prosecute you
It is important to recognize that not being read your rights is not a "get out of jail free" card.
The criminal defense attorneys at The Ambeau Law Firm carefully review each case to find any violations of your rights. If you think your rights were violated during your arrest, it is important to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney to determine the best way to proceed.
Myth #3: If the police tell me my case will be dismissed, it will be dismissed.
Police can say anything they want to you and do not have to deliver on any promises they make. They might tell you that your charges will be dismissed or your sentence reduced if you cooperate with them and answer their questions. But in Louisiana, many factors go into a court's decision on whether or not to dismiss or reduce a criminal charge. The judge is not required to pay attention to any promises made by police during an interrogation.
The prosecutor is the only party that may offer a plea bargain. A plea bargain is a formal agreement between the Defendant and the state that offers a compromise between the state's interest in enforcing laws and your constitutional rights. Law enforcement officers, however, do not have the authority to make deals that are upheld by the court.
Do not rely on police promises. A trusted and experienced criminal defense attorney will negotiate with the appropriate parties on your behalf. Before you consider entering into any type of agreement with police or prosecutors, you should absolutely discuss your options with a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney.
Myth #4: The odds are against me in court.
It may feel like the odds are against you if you face criminal charges or a trial in Louisiana. The truth is that they are in your favor.
You are innocent until proven guilty and have a right to a fair trial and legal representation. In addition, juries in Louisiana are comprised of 12 people who must agree unanimously on a verdict to convict you.
Being accused of a crime does not mean that you will be found guilty - it simply means that there is enough evidence for the judge or jury to consider before determining innocence or guilt.
Don't assume anything about your case until a criminal defense attorney has thoroughly reviewed all of the available evidence. While being arrested or charged with a crime is a scary experience, the outcome may not be as bad as you think. Talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney who will explain your options and craft a defense to fight on your behalf.
Myth #5: DNA evidence is perfect and accurate
Despite what TV shows and movies portray, DNA evidence is not perfect. DNA evidence can be contaminated, misinterpreted, tampered with and inconclusive. While DNA has been used to convict criminals for decades, DNA does not guarantee that the person found guilty actually committed the crime.
When you're facing criminal charges in Louisiana, your future is at stake—and so are your rights and liberties as an American citizen. If your case involves DNA evidence, it is important to talk with a criminal defense attorney experienced with DNA who can help you understand the evidence and how to fight against it.
Attorney Jarrett Ambeau is a court-qualified forensic DNA interpretation expert and earned his masters in forensic DNA and serology. He understands how DNA evidence is collected and presented and what DNA proves and does not prove.
Contact The Ambeau Law Firm for trusted, experienced criminal defense
There are many myths and misconceptions about the criminal justice system. An experienced criminal defense attorney will cut through the noise and guide you through the legal process. Your lawyer can help you understand your rights, explain the law in detail and even negotiate with prosecutors to ensure fair treatment.
The Ambeau Law Firm is a team of attorneys with more than 40 years of combined courtroom experience. Principal attorney Jarrett Ambeau is a trial attorney with more than 50 felony jury trials to verdict.
When it comes to your defense, rights and freedom - experience matters.
Have questions about hiring a criminal defense attorney in Louisiana? Contact The Ambeau Law Firm at 225-330-7009. We're here to help.