In today’s digital environment, along with movies and television, the general public is influenced by myths, misinformation, and sometimes, downright lies. Unfortunately, this includes many common myths about the law, which can be detrimental to you and your family’s well-being. It is rumored, for example, there are “tricks” to “beating” a breathalyzer, such as eating peanut butter beforehand (not true). Debunking legal myths like these will help you make informed decisions about your life and business.
Legal Myths Debunked
- Myth: Many people believe that a driver can not be charged with driving under the influence (DUI or DWI) if their blood alcohol level (BAC) is under the legal limit.
Fact: A driver can be charged with a DUI/DWI if their blood alcohol content is below .08%,( the legal limit in all states) and their driving ability is impaired.
Although driving drunk is a serious offense, there are plenty of ridiculous, and sometimes, funny stories. For example, an Ohio man motorized a barstool, drove it to a bar, drank, and tried to drive home. He thought that driving a barstool wouldn’t get him in trouble. When he inevitably crashed, police arrested him for having a high blood alcohol count.
- Myth: During an arrest, if you aren’t read the Miranda Warning, (also referred to as Miranda Rights) you can not be convicted of the crime.
Fact: Not being read your rights will not dismiss your case. A judge may instead prohibit any statements made during the arrest to be disregarded. This may make it more difficult to convict a person, but with sufficient evidence, it’s possible.
- Myth: An undercover police officer must identify himself as such. And additionally, must be truthful when enforcing the law.
Fact: A police officer, whether undercover or not, can use deceptive methods to enforce the laws. In fact, during an interrogation, the police can be untruthful. In reality, it is common practice to lie about evidence to pressure the arrestee into confessing (you’ve probably seen this on TV). A highly publicized case known as the Central Park Five is an example of this. Police told each of the arrestees that the others had implicated them. They each gave a false confession and were sent to jail, but exonerated years later.
- Myth: Refusing a search means you are guilty.
Fact: You have a right to refuse the search if you are not given a warrant. A suspicion by law enforcement is not acceptable for a search and you need not consent. Refusing to consent is just a way of preserving your rights under the law.
- Myth: It’s always best to cooperate with the police right away.
Fact: Well, it would seem like a good thing, but the best strategy would be not to say anything and hire an attorney. It’s your right to ask for a lawyer. An experienced attorney, like Andrew Maze, will help you navigate through the court system to get the best possible outcome.
- Myth: A break-in gives the property owner the right to use lethal force.
Fact: In many states, homeowners have the right to defend themselves, but not allow for lethal force. Even if it is allowed in some states, the justice system requires that the property owner must have reasonably believed the break-in could result in death or serious injury. New Jersey is one of these states
Believing these myths about criminal offenses can cloud your judgment and result in more serious penalties (remember it’s best to not say anything). As a resuly, offenses such as DUIs, drug crimes, and theft can change your life quickly. An arrest can lead to severe financial fines, the possibility of jail time, and a potential criminal record. A consultation with an attorney such as Andrew Maze, can guide you through the justice system, provide you with the correct information, debunking legal myths, and help you make an informed decision.