When the police arrest you and ask you if you did it, you know that you did. You may not answer them right then — it’s best not to answer questions on your own, without a lawyer present — but you know that they’re right. You did it.
Does that mean you’re guilty? They’ll threaten you with fines, jail time and all sorts of related ramifications. Is there no way around that? Are they right that your life as you knew it is over, because you’re going to get convicted?
Absolutely not. There are plenty of examples of people who did exactly what they got accused of doing, but that did not mean they were actually guilty of a crime.
One of the best examples of this is if you acted in self-defense. You had a reason to take the steps that you did. Your own actions were justified. Essentially, legal experts note that self-defense gives you the “right to prevent suffering force or violence through the use of a sufficient level of counteracting force or violence.”
For instance, imagine that someone breaks into your house at night. You hear the noise, get a handgun out of your bedside table — you bought that gun legally years ago — and you go downstairs. There are two men in your living room. They’re both armed, clearly holding guns themselves. They’ve kicked the door open. One turns toward you as you come down the stairs.
You fire at both men. They run out of the house, but they’re quickly found by police because you wounded both of them. One passes away from his injuries.
Due to some miscommunication about what happened, you get arrested. While shooting someone is clearly illegal in most situations, you can argue that you feared for your life and you simply acted to protect yourself and your family. Self-defense means you’re not guilty of a crime, even though you did fire the shots just like the police claim.
This may seem like a fairly clear example, but the general idea holds true for many supposedly illegal actions. For instance, you may get arrested for trespassing when you really had permission to be on the property. You could get arrested for possessing illegal drugs when you didn’t know that someone else put them in your car. There are plenty of scenarios where an arrest gets made but you still have a strong defense showing why you are not guilty.
If you are facing charges of any kind, make sure you understand your legal options and the steps you can take to protect your rights.