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How a wrongful arrest happens, and the damage it can do

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2020 | Criminal Defense

Many people assume that whenever the police arrest somebody, the arrested person did the crime. After all, Hollywood cop movies and television shows teach us that the police never make mistakes. They always get their man (or woman).

But here in the real world of the San Antonio area, wrongful arrests do happen sometimes. From the law enforcement perspective, arresting the wrong person can delay justice and embarrass the authorities a little. But for the wrongfully accused person, the consequences can change their lives for years to come.

A San Antonio man’s life changed hours after wrongful arrest

The recent plight of a San Antonio man shows what can happen. Police knocked on his door on Dec. 8 in connection with a hit-and-run car accident that had happened six days earlier. According to the man, the officers told him that they would take him to speak to the detective on the case and that he would be “back [home] in no time.” Instead, they arrested him on two felony charges and put him in jail.

Bail was set at $15,000. The man had to spend his family’s Christmas present money to pay a bail bond agent. When he got out, he was embarrassed to see news reports about his arrest. But that was just the beginning. When he went to work the next day, he was told he had been fired.

Begging the police to investigate further

Desperate to clear his name, the man waited for hours to speak to the detective. When he finally got into the detective’s office, he explained that he did not own the black pickup truck abandoned at the car accident scene. The detective insisted that the man had to have done it, based on a witness picking him out of a photo lineup, and the information on the man’s driver’s license matching the description of the driver as well. But the detective said he would look into it.

Almost a week passed before the detective left a voicemail message at the man’s home. It turned out that the hit-and-run driver was another man with the same name and a similar physical description. The district attorney formally dropped the criminal charges on Dec. 17.

However, the man has not gotten his job back, and his family has no source of income. A lieutenant with the San Antonio Police Department called and promised to try to “help” him. What that means is uncertain.

Fight false criminal charges against you

As you can see, being arrested and charged with a crime you did not commit can dramatically affect your income, family, and public reputation. Worst of all, any time you get arrested, there is a chance of a conviction, no matter how weak the evidence might seem. The assistance of a defense attorney can mean the difference between your freedom and a terrible injustice.