You’ve Been Accused of a Crime…What Now?
You’ve been accused of a crime. You may be in shock or disbelief, or you may be worried about something you’ve been involved with in the past. Either way, you’re concerned about what’s going to happen. You’re wondering what to do, or not do. At The Defenders, we work with clients every day who have been charged with a criminal act. Let’s share some key recommendations:
- Get help from a qualified lawyer. The legal system regarding criminal law is extremely complex and is not a place for the non-lawyer to navigate. One of the best things you can do is find a criminal defense lawyer who has specific experience in representing clients who have been charged with the same crime you have. If, for example, you have been charged with assault and battery, you will want to find an attorney who is familiar with handling those kinds of cases. He or she will know all the action steps to, first and foremost, protect your legal rights.
- Don’t delay. Time is of the essence. As soon as you are charged or arrested, don’t say anything about the matter without speaking with your lawyer first. This is critical. Anything you say can and will be used against you, as we’ve all heard. Your lawyer will guide you regarding your rights, but you need his or her guidance from the start of the matter.
Particularly if you know you’re innocent or believe you’ve done nothing wrong, you may be asking yourself, do I really need a criminal lawyer? The answer is YES. The average person simply does not have the background or knowledge to go through the defense process. The police department, investigations, the court system, documents and statements…there are many pieces that make up the often scary and intimidating criminal justice system. Your lawyer is there to protect your legal rights and guide you throughout the process, which may involve:
- Your lawyer will work with you to gain a full understanding (from your viewpoint) of what happened that led to your criminal charge.
- Your lawyer will work with law enforcement to gather the facts of what you’re being accused of and discover any evidence they believe they have against you. At the same time, your lawyer will perform any needed investigation to gather information and evidence that will support your case.
- Outside experts may be sought to offer insights and expert testimony regarding your case. Remember, the goal of your lawyer is to take every legal opportunity to protect your rights and defend you against the charge.
- Your lawyer will make sure you are in compliance with any legal dates or deadlines regarding your case. There will be tremendous paperwork to prepare and exchange amongst the parties involved. Your lawyer will handle all of that and communicate with everyone involved, as needed.
- Your lawyer will keep the big picture in mind…orchestrating a defense that will yield the best outcome for you. For some, that outcome may come in court at a trial. For others, the outcome may come before the case ever goes to trial, such as if the case is dismissed in the meantime.
Now, you know it would be wise to hire a reputable, experienced lawyer to defend you. There is simply too much at stake to risk trying to handle it on your own. But you may be worried about the cost of that lawyer. It’s important to know that you probably do have options. Even if you don’t have readily available cash, you can still meet for an initial consultation with someone who can help. Beyond sharing the details of your case (and what you’ve been accused of), let the lawyer know your concerns about what a good defense will cost. An experienced lawyer has been helping the accused for years, and he or she knows multiple ways to help pay for legal representation. Just be sure to ask!
The legal system in general is complex, and when you add criminal law to the equation, its severity and ramifications are raised even higher. It is scary, and overwhelming, to be sure. By identifying and choosing a lawyer who has specific experience in your case type, you’ll be taking the first step to protecting your rights and ensuring the best possible outcome for your case. Only then can you start the process to move forward with your family and life. If you have been accused of a crime, please call The Defenders for the legal help you need and deserve.