If you have been arrested in Alaska, what you do and don't do while your court date is pending could have a major impact on the outcome of your trial. When facing criminal charges, the “to-dos” are fairly simple—you need to make sure you know your court date, and you need to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you. However, knowing what not to do is a bit more complicated, and it requires at least a basic understanding of the legal principles that apply to criminal cases in Alaska.
10 Mistakes to Avoid if You are Facing Criminal Charges in Alaska
You have been arrested in Alaska. You have been charged with a crime (or perhaps multiple crimes), and you have a court date scheduled in the not-too-distant future. What mistakes do you need to avoid in order to give yourself the best chance of avoiding a conviction and harsh sentencing at trial?
#1 Getting Arrested Again
Once you have been arrested, one of the last things you want to do is to get arrested again. Not only could this limit the options that are available to you in your current case; but, if you get convicted, you could be at risk for enhanced penalties as a repeat offender in your next trial.
#2 Assuming You are Innocent
Regardless of the facts of your case, you cannot afford to assume that you are innocent. If you do, and if you fail to take your case seriously as a result, you could very well find yourself facing a conviction. Not only are wrongful convictions far more common than most people realize, but it is also possible that you have violated an Alaska statute of which you are unaware.
#3 Assuming You are Guilty
Of course, while assuming you are innocent can be costly, so can assuming that you are guilty. As a result, under no circumstances should you assume that you will be found guilty in court. Not only could your understanding of the law be incorrect, but it could also be the case that you have defenses that relate to events occurring after (as opposed to before) your arrest. If the police obtained evidence without a valid warrant, for example, then the prosecutor's office may not be able to present this evidence in court.
#4 Assuming You Cannot Affect the Outcome of Your Case
Regardless of what you think about your innocence or guilt, you must also avoid assuming that you cannot affect the outcome of your case. While defending against criminal charges presents many challenges, the outcome of your case is not predetermined. By executing a strategic defense with the representation of experienced legal counsel, you may be able to mitigate the consequences of your arrest—if not avoid a conviction entirely.
#5 Overlooking Potential Defenses
There are numerous potential defenses to criminal charges in Alaska state court. There are three main types of defenses, and there are multiple defenses within each of these three categories. When facing a criminal charge (or multiple criminal charges), it is imperative to consider all possible defenses and build a comprehensive and cohesive defense strategy that takes all of the relevant facts of your case into account.
#6 Overlooking Other Opportunities to Avoid a Conviction
In addition to asserting defenses to the charge (or charges) against you, you may have other options for avoiding a conviction as well. For example, if you are eligible for the Anchorage, Alaska Municipal Pretrial Diversion Program, participating in the program will allow you to resolve your case without a conviction—and without facing the risk of a trial in open court.
#7 Talking to Anyone about Your Criminal Case
Other than your defense attorney, you should not talk about your case with anyone while your trial date is pending. You do not have to (and should not) answer any questions for the police, and you should avoid discussing your case with your friends, family members, coworkers, and others as well. This also means staying off of social media. You do not want to face a conviction as the result of something that you post online—and this is a very real possibility that is becoming increasingly common.
#8 Failing to Appreciate the Risks Involved
In Alaska, both felonies and misdemeanors can carry serious penalties. When you are facing criminal charges, it is imperative to make sure you have a clear understanding of the penalties that are on the table. A conviction can impact your life in other ways as well, from the loss of your gun rights to the loss of your job and future employment opportunities.
#9 Misunderstanding Your Constitutional Rights
While the U.S. Constitution affords significant protections to individuals who are facing criminal charges in Alaska state court, these protections are not absolute, and many people have misconceptions about how and when they apply. For example, the police do not have to read your Miranda rights immediately upon your arrest, and not everyone is entitled to a public defender. In order to ensure that you are not making decisions based on inaccurate information, you should discuss your case with an attorney promptly.
#10 Trying to Handle Your Case on Your Own
Finally, although it might seem like a good idea to save money and handle your case on your own, there are several reasons why this approach is both ill-informed and ill-advised. The costs of a conviction can far exceed the costs of hiring a criminal defense lawyer; and, even if the odds appear to be stacked against you, an experienced defense lawyer will be able to use his or her experience to build and execute an effective defense strategy on your behalf.
Schedule a Free and Confidential Consultation with Alaska Criminal Lawyer Eric Derleth
Do you have questions regarding your criminal case? If so, we encourage you to speak with a criminal lawyer Eric Derleth about your defense. To schedule a free and confidential consultation in Anchorage, Kenai, or Soldotna, call 907-262-9164 now.