Many Americans take the comparatively high quality of their police forces for granted. If you’ve ever traveled abroad – or spoken to someone who has – you know about police officers who respond to a tourist’s request for assistance by demanding a bribe. Or worse.
Misconduct may not be that flagrant in the U.S., but it does happen. Recent news stories have revealed that police officers and FBI agents have fabricated evidence, assaulted members of the public without provocation, and covered up crimes. In many cases, the discreditable conduct was publicized and punished only because a bystander recorded it.
The Justice Department and the FBI has recently admitted that during a two-decade period prior to 2000, 26 out of 28 members of a special FBI forensic unit provided dishonest testimony against criminal defendants at the latter’s trials.
In 95% of the 268 trials reviewed, the agents in question overstated forensic evidence in ways that favored the prosecution’s stance. 32 of those defendants were sentenced to death. 14 of them have since died in prison or been executed.
These admissions and the resulting forensic scandal are sad proof that the police and FBI, who are supposed to be guardians of justice, can and do fabricate or otherwise interfere with evidence. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut declared, “These findings are appalling and chilling in their indictment of our criminal justice system.”
In 2012 federal authorities commenced an investigation after the Washington Post claimed that flawed forensic test results involving hair might have resulted in wrongful convictions dating back to the 1970s. Authorities in New York, North Carolina, and Texas are presently reviewing cases involving hair testing.
Although atypical, these incidents illustrate the importance of contacting a criminal defense attorney the moment you are arrested or even suspect that you are being investigated. The police are specially trained to collect incriminating evidence against a person, and there is no way that cooperating with them will ever be in your best interest. They may collect evidence that is not incriminating but can be “interpreted” to your detriment, as in the cases referenced earlier.
Your attorney will ensure that you do not answer questions in a way that hurts your case, and attempt to suppress any details that you may have inadvertently given or change the perspective so that the resulting damage is minimal. They will also challenge questionable evidence if the case goes to trial. It is your attorney, not the police, who will safeguard your rights throughout the process and work with you to bring about the best possible outcome. If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, please contact us today so that we can go to work on your behalf.