When police officers tell someone that they have compelling evidence, that person may consider pleading guilty to a crime they didn’t commit. People sometimes even start to question their own memory and interpretation of events. Many people plead guilty to criminal charges when they deeply believe that they are actually innocent. They believe that because the state seemingly has evidence tying them to criminal activity such that they have no choice but to plead guilty.
However, not all evidence is enough to convince a judge or jury beyond a reasonable doubt that someone violated criminal statutes. More importantly, not all evidence actually holds up under review during a criminal trial. Those who maintain that they did not violate the law often need to learn more about their rights and the evidence the state allegedly has before entering a plea.
Not all evidence shows what the cops think it does
There are many reasons why police officers could misinterpret evidence. People generally tend to notice details that support their own beliefs, a psychological phenomenon known as confirmation bias. A police officer could easily ignore certain details in favor of others if only part of the evidence supports their allegations. There are also many kinds of questionable science utilized in criminal justice matters. From forensic science, like blood spatter analysis, to 911-call analysis, it is often possible to raise questions about the accuracy or scientific validity of the state’s evidence during a criminal trial.
Not all evidence is legal to use in court
Every individual has the same basic legal rights when accused of a crime. They have the right to remain silent and the right to a presumption of innocence until after their guilty plea or criminal conviction. They also have the right to privacy and to be free from unreasonable searches.
If police officers do something illegal or conduct a search that violates someone’s rights, whatever evidence they obtain in that process may be subject to challenges during court proceedings. A defense attorney who can show that police officers conducted an illegal search or otherwise broke the law could ask the courts to exclude that ill-gotten evidence from the trial. In some cases, this tactic results in the elimination of most or even all of the evidence against a defendant.
To determine the best way to handle state evidence, it is typically necessary for a defendant to review the evidence against them. The prosecutor has to make that information available to the defendant and their lawyer under discovery rules. Realizing that state evidence doesn’t automatically lead to a conviction might help someone better respond to the charges against them.