Most people don’t think about their need for an attorney until they are in the midst of a crisis. If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, having an attorney there to help you navigate through this process can mean the difference between jail time and freedom.
Getting Representation Early Makes a Difference
Even if you don’t have an attorney at the time of your arrest, there are steps that you can take to protect yourself and your rights. When you are arrested, do not make any statements or admission of guilt to the police or anyone else. Do not discuss details of the crime with co-defendants, cell mates or anyone. Do not discuss your crime over the phone at the jail or precinct. Those calls are always recorded and can be used against you in court. It is your right to remain silent, and doing so is not an admission of guilt.
Many people mistakenly believe that talking to the police will make it more likely that they will be released and sent home. Nothing could be further from the truth. Once you are placed under arrest, you will remain in the custody of the police until you appear before the judge, regardless of what you say. If you are questioned by the police, simply ask to speak to your attorney before making any statements. Remember that the police work closely with the district attorney whose job it is to prosecute you. Giving any statements to the police is like simply handing the district attorney their entire case against you. The police are not your therapist or your confidant. Exercise your constitutional right to remain silent. You are innocent until the state proves that you are guilty.
There are many events that will happen in a short period of time between the time you are arrested and your first appearance before the judge. The police will be gathering evidence, talking to prosecutors and creating reports. The prosecutor will be building a case against you and preparing to make a recommendation to the judge about whether you should be granted bail.
This is a point where it is crucial to have an attorney working for you. Your lawyer can negotiate and discuss lessening or dropping the charges with the prosecutor before charges are finalized. It is easier to get the prosecutor to lower the charges in the preliminary stages in the case than it is after the case has worked its way through the system.
Your Life is on the Line
An arrest can mean more than a minor inconvenience. If you are denied bail, you will have to wait in jail until your trial. This can take months, and in some cases more than a year. During this time, you may lose your job, your home and your ability to provide for your family. Your attorney can advocate on your behalf, asking the judge to set bail at a reasonable amount or to release you on your own recognizance.
In some cases, the prosecutor will levy the most serious charges against you, hoping to convict you on at least one of them. Your attorney will negotiate with the prosecutor and offer counter evidence that will help bolster your defense and likely decrease the seriousness of the charges against you.
Hiring Your Criminal Defense Attorney
Nobody believes they will need an attorney until they are in the thick of a crisis. The best way to get the best possible outcome is to have your attorney’s information at your disposal so that you can call him as soon as you are arrested. Your family can also contact your attorney who can then meet you and attend any police interrogations and advocate on your behalf. Your attorney will then work aggressively to craft the best defense possible, fighting for your freedom every step of the way.