What you do and say during the early stages of a criminal investigation can have a lasting impact on whether or not you are ever formally charged with a crime. Getting an attorney involved the moment the police start asking questions not only relieves you of some of this pressure, doing so may lead to your case being rejected by the district attorney's office.
There are several benefits to hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you while you are being investigated for a crime.
1. Advising you during police interrogations.
The golden rule during an on-going criminal investigation is to say as little as possible. Don't offer information if it isn't asked for, and don't admit to doing anything wrong. Politely invoke your right to remain silent under the U.S. Constitution and ask to speak to a lawyer.
All police questioning can be directed through your attorney once you have made law enforcement aware of the fact that you have retained legal representation.
It is important to remember that anything you say can and will be used against you. You must make it absolutely clear you wish to have a lawyer present before you answer any questions.
2. Correcting inaccurate police reports.
Let's face it. The police are interested in building a case to have you prosecuted. Unfortunately, facts may be reported that paint an unflattering picture of you. Although law enforcement is supposed to be objective, the police are not above forming a biased opinion when investigating a crime.
Your attorney can discuss your situation with law enforcement investigators in advance to make certain inaccurate information is corrected before a police report is generated and made available to the prosecuting agency.
3. Locating favorable witnesses and evidence.
Hiring an attorney during a pre-file investigation can be significantly in interviewing favorable witnesses and locating evidence. Your attorney can interview and prepare witnesses who may be able to testify on your behalf as well as examine all of the available evidence that can best support your defense.
Having supporting witnesses and evidence favorable to you early on is powerful information that can be used strategically to defend you before your case ever gets to trial.
4. Preparing for unfavorable witnesses and evidence.
If the police have witnesses who will be used to testify against you, it is better to know in advance who they are and what they may have to say.
Your attorney can locate and determine who these witnesses are and plan strategically how to best diffuse any negative impact of their testimony. The same is true for potentially damaging evidence.
5. Applying the law in your favor.
Higher courts are constantly reinterpreting the law. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled recently that warrantless searches of your cellphone violates your constitutional rights.
Having an attorney who is up to date with the latest court rulings can help ensure that the police conduct their investigation according to what is currently allowed by law.
If evidence is collected improperly, your attorney can move swiftly to try to get the evidence thrown out before it has a chance to influence anyone, especially a member of the jury.
6. Negotiating with the prosecutor.
Prosecutors often file multiple charges in criminal cases in the expectation that some, or most will be dismissed later on, particularly during plea bargaining.
Your attorney may be able to persuade an overzealous prosecutor from filing questionable charges against you, which improves your chances that the remaining charges can be reduced or dismissed as your case moves closer to trial.
7. Handling media requests.
If you are being investigated for a high profile crime likely to draw public interest, you may have to deal with reporters showing up at your home or business unannounced, asking many personal questions. The media can be unrelenting and very disruptive to your normal routine.
More importantly, you don't want to make the mistake of saying anything that could be misinterpreted or potentially incriminating.
Your attorney can handle any questioning for you if the media becomes interested in your case.
8. Prearranging for bail.
If you know that you are going to be arrested, it can save you time, aggravation and money if your attorney can make arrangements for a bail bondsman's service in advance.
Attorney referred bail bonds usually charge a lower fee. Additionally, your attorney can help expedite your release from custody by getting the bail bond process started as quickly as possible.
The sooner you are released, the faster you can get back to work and your family. Additionally, you will have more time to spend assisting your attorney to prepare for your defense.
If You Are Being Investigated for Committing a Crime, You Must Act Accordingly
If you or someone you love is suspected of committing a crime, it is crucial to hire an experienced attorney during the pre-filing stage of the case. You stand a better chance of winning your case if you have strong legal representation before charges are filed against you.