With the popularity of crime TV, almost everyone thinks they know something about the criminal justice system and what happens when you are charged with a crime. But a lot of what you see portrayed on TV and hear discussed among peers may not be true. If you have been charged with a crime, make sure you are aware that the following statements are actually misconceptions.
Misconception: If they did not read you your rights when arrested, your case will be dismissed.
This happens all of the time on TV. Someone is charged with a crime, but when they get up in front of the judge, the case is dismissed completely because their Miranda Rights were not read to them when they were arrested. The problem here is that the police do not have to read your rights upon arrest -- only prior to interrogation. And if they did fail to read your rights before interrogation, that would not cause the judge to throw your case out. It would only mean that the judge could not consider any statements you made prior to being read your rights as evidence.
Misconception: The judge will offer you a plea deal if you plead guilty.
This does happen sometimes. The judge may agree to grant you a lesser punishment if you plead guilty to a lesser crime than the one you were charged with. However, this will be arranged beforehand with the DA and your attorney. You don't just show up to court, plead guilty, and have the judge take pity on you because you were honest. In the majority of cases, pleading "not guilty" will have the better outcome. Your lawyer will guide you in choosing the right plea for your case, and that's the plea you will enter when your court date comes.
Misconception: You can't be tried more than once for the same crime.
This is true in many cases. The Constitution of the United States does state that you cannot be put in jeopardy twice for the same offense. However, there are exceptions to this rule. You can be tried again if your case ends in a hung jury or is declared a mistrial. So, if your initial trial ends one of these ways, you should not be surprised if you are called back into court again for a new set of charges.
If there is anything else you think you know about criminal charges, ask a criminal defense lawyer to confirm that it is true before you let it shape your actions.