Most people never imagine getting caught in the throes of a criminal investigation, but realistically, it could happen to anyone. Hopefully, you never find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time, but in the event that you do, it’s a good idea to know ahead of time how to properly handle the situation. No matter the charges, you have rights, and it’s crucial to protect those in a criminal law case from the very beginning. Avoid making the following errors as best you can to prevent seriously damaging your defense.
Volunteering to Talk to the Police Without a Lawyer
Innocent people, or those who have never dealt with the legal system in any capacity, often don’t see anything wrong with talking to the police and telling their side of the story before speaking with a lawyer. There is a reason you have the right to remain silent and that is exactly what you should do until you have a lawyer by your side. Conversations can easily be misconstrued, and while you may believe you’re just honestly telling your version of events, it could suddenly be turned into a self-incriminating statement.
Waiting to Hire an Attorney (or Hiring the Wrong One)
Again, people mistakenly think they can handle law enforcement on their own and don’t invoke their right to counsel until damage has already been done. Criminal law cases don’t generally just go away, and you’re going to need someone who is knowledgeable in this field and experienced with court proceedings to stand up and defend you.
Hiring an attorney right away will keep you from hurting your case and allow them to get started on all the necessary tasks that will need to take place to achieve a successful outcome. It’s critical that you don’t hire just any attorney, however, and that you find one that is suitable for your specific circumstance.
Refusing to Be on Your Best Behavior
It can be extremely difficult to maintain civility and remember your manners when placed in such a stressful position, but it can make a big difference in how the legal system perceives you in the long run. Remain cordial with law enforcement officials at all times and never resist arrest so as not to make a bad situation even worse.
Consenting to a Search and/or Handing Over Requested Samples
If officers would like to search your home, office, etc. or want samples of your DNA, fingerprints, handwriting or clothing, that’s all well and fine as long as they have a court order. Don’t make the big mistake of voluntarily letting them into your personal space without a warrant or offering up any samples because you think you have nothing to hide. There are no guarantees that they won’t come up with some kind of evidence against you.
Not Listening to the Advice of Your Criminal Law Attorney
Your criminal law attorney is there to help you, but they can’t do that if you don’t trust them and refuse to listen to their expert advice. They are the one with the extensive experience handling legal matters and know what actions will serve your best interests and which will not.
There’s a good chance you will be advised not to speak with anyone about your case (this includes, friends, family members and other inmates) and not to make phone calls from prison. You should also carefully consider why your attorney is suggesting a certain defense strategy, why they may not want you to take the stand and why they might recommend taking a plea deal.
Failing to Be Open and Honest With Your Lawyer
It’s not just a cliche saying that honesty is the best policy when it comes to this kind of circumstance. If your lawyer doesn’t know all the facts, you can’t expect them to do their very best job at defending you. It can also damage your case if something were to come out as a surprise during the court process that your lawyer wasn’t prepared to deal with.
A criminal law case needs to be taken seriously if you don’t want to end up doing time. Make sure you do your part to keep that from happening.