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Olivehurst man's plight highlights importance of having attorney

Have you ever run up behind someone on the street, calling their name, only to find out it wasn't the person you thought it was? It's an honest mistake that has probably happened to many of our Pleasanton readers. Usually in these situations, you both walk away from the situation -- no harm done.

Unfortunately, cases of mistaken identity don't usually end like this when the police are involved. Oftentimes, if the details of a person's identity match that of a suspect or someone named on a warrant, the police may take that person into custody -- even if it is a case of mistaken identity. "Cops can't just let the person go," explains Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness.

But as the case of one Olivehurst man shows, cases of mistaken identity can damage a person's reputation as well as cost them both financially and later on down the road. For Gilberto Hernandez, the Olivehurst man, the fact that he has the same name and birth date as a man with an outstanding warrant for domestic violence has resulted in two wrongful arrests already.

Fearing that he could lose his job after the second arrest, Hernandez paid bail. But even though his name has been cleared, California police still say he's on the hook for a large portion of the money. Worse still, he may need to carry around a document issued to him by Santa Clara County for the rest of his life -- a document that explains that he is not the man listed on the warrant and one that will hopefully prevent further instances of mistaken identity.

A lot of people who are taken into custody lie about their identity, Sheriff McGinness explains, which is why Hernandez's pleas stating that police had the wrong man were not taken seriously each time he was arrested. It's because of this unfortunate fact that we'd like to point out the importance of requesting an attorney when accused of committing a crime.

If police refuse to listen to you because they suspect that you're lying, then having a skilled criminal defense attorney at your side may be the best option. That's because they can advocate for your innocence, which might be the clout you need to get the police to realize that you're telling the truth. This may lessen the likelihood of further issues or damage to your reputation as well.

Source: CBS News, "Innocent man arrested, jailed twice because of name," April 29, 2015

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