Have you found yourself on the wrong side of the criminal law process? Maybe you actually committed the criminal law act that you’re being charged with. Maybe you didn’t. It’s not for us to decide. It’s not even for the criminal defense firms who defend you in the criminal law court to decide. Your innocence or guilt is only to be decided by a criminal law jury of your peers after a fair trial.
Whether or not you are guilty as charged or wrongly accused, the outcome severely impacts your future, and you likely want to get the best verdict and sentencing as possible. If you find yourself in this unfortunate predicament, here are a few tips your criminal defense attorney wishes you knew:
Three Things Your Criminal Defense Lawyer Wishes You Knew
- Exercise your right to remain silent.
As you’re being arrested, the cop is required to recite your “Miranda Rights,” the rights you have throughout your detainment and investigation. This starts out with the sentence: You have the right to remain silent. (If the arresting cop neglects to tell you this, this is a big deal. We’re talking potential grounds for your case to be overthrown altogether.)
This simple phrase holds a lot of power. While this might by your first scrape with the law, the legal system has had decades (nay…centuries) to fine tune their methods for getting suspects to say things that incriminate themselves. If you do answer questions or say anything about the incident in question, you could easily dig yourself into a deeper hole. On the other hand, your chances of talking your way out of your predicament are next to nil.
It’s in your best interest to be respectful to the investigators and cops who work with you, but supply zero information. Even if they seem like they’re trying to help (Good Cop/Bad Cop anyone?), at the end of the day, they have one goal: to tie a human to the crime, and close the case. And there’s a target on your back. Answer any question you are asked with a simple, “Respectfully, I’d like to wait until I’m in the presence of my lawyer before answering any questions, sir (or ma’am).”
- Find a Good Lawyer
It is your right to have an attorney fight on your behalf through the criminal law process. Do not take that lightly. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you’ll be assigned a public defender. However, if you have any means to, find yourself a criminal defense lawyer who is good at what they do. Perhaps your cousin is an estate attorney and you think you can save a few bucks but hitting them up for some pro-bono work on your cause. Don’t do that. The legal process is very complicated and just because someone is an expert in one area of law doesn’t mean that they understand the case law and precedent set in your particular circumstances.
Hedge your bets and hire a lawyer who specializes in the area of law that your issue pertains to. Not only will they know the best way to navigate the legal process on your behalf, they likely have relationships with other professionals involved with your case, and can use that to your advantage.
- Think long and hard before taking a plea bargain.
Everyone involved in your trial wants to avoid going to trial. When your charges go to trial, it’s expensive and it’s time consuming. The prosecutors who are handling your case often have upwards of 200 cases at a time. While the outcome of the case deeply impacts your future, the prosecutors end game is to get it wrapped up and out of their caseload as fast as they can. They are likely going to be pushy about getting you to agree to a plea bargain. Maybe they’ll say it’s the best deal you’ll get, as long as you take it right then and there. If your gut is telling you that you’re being unfairly treated and it severely jeopardizes your future, don’t be intimidated into agreeing to a plea bargain that seals the deal for you. Consult with your lawyer and think really long and hard about it before you sign your name on a plea bargain.