The question of when to hire a criminal defense lawyer is a fairly easy one to answer: as soon as possible. For many people, talking to an attorney can feel like a big step and it might be intimidating to make that initial phone call. Those who have been arrested often believe they can simply explain their situation to the police and avoid criminal charges. This approach is understandable, but it is also deeply misinformed and dangerous. If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, you need to get in touch with a criminal defense lawyer right away. Here’s why:
When an arrest has been made
The period between being taken into police custody for questioning and actually being charged with a crime is a crucial one. Because you are not actually facing charges during this period (the police may say they “just want to question you”) it can be easy to let your guard down or to think that you can simply talk your way out of a bad situation. In fact, it is during this period when you need a lawyer the most. A lawyer knows what your rights are during this stage in the judicial process and he can help you uphold those rights.
You have probably heard of the Miranda Rights, for example, but do you know what they actually mean or why they are so important? The right to remain silent is especially useful during the early stages of an arrest. From your perspective, you may think your actions were completely innocent and you may try explaining those actions to the arresting officer. However, you may inadvertently say something to lead that officer to conclude that you actually have committed an offense. As a result, you could be facing more charges than you would have otherwise if you had been able to fully exercise your Miranda Rights.
How a lawyer can help
With a lawyer by your side, you won’t need to answer any questions that could end up incriminating you. You can tell your side of the story in complete confidence to your lawyer and then he can act on your behalf in your interactions with the police. Furthermore, your lawyer will know what the standard legal process the police need to follow is when filing charges, searching for evidence, and conducting interviews. If the police fail to abide by the proper legal process then your lawyer may be able to help get any charges against you lowered or dropped.
Being arrested or charged with a crime is a frightening experience and one that you should not have to face alone. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, you need to contact a criminal defense lawyer right away. An experienced lawyer will help uphold your rights and act as a dedicated advocate on your behalf.