You have been contacted by the police who want to ask you a few questions or someone has accused you of a crime and you have been arrested.
This is a frightening scenario for anyone, especially when they have lived their lives as law abiding citizens.
What should you do next when this happens to you? Here are some key bits of advice of what you should do next when charged with a crime.
Police investigators are very skilled at trying to draw a confession from an accused even if the accused is innocent. For example, a line used by police detectives is, “Go ahead and tell us you did it and we’ll go easy on you.” You have the right to remain silent even when an investigator is questioning you before arrest.
If you don’t remain silent until speaking with a criminal defense attorney, several things can happen that will not help your defense to include:
• Misunderstanding by the investigator
• The investigator not recording your statement correctly
• The investigator forgetting some of your statement
• Confessing to a crime you didn’t commit
• You might admit to something that makes you look guilty
Criminal investigators and detectives have one goal when on a case: Find who did it and get the case closed. Unfortunately, some detectives will stop at nothing to coerce an admission of guilt from the accused even if that person did not commit the crime.
In the haste to close the investigation, detectives will listen to your statements but oftentimes without trying to understand what you are really saying. Obviously, this would lead to not recording your statement correctly.
Likewise, an investigator may forget certain key words that you made in your statement. This also results in it getting recorded incorrectly.
Also, a detective might ask you where you were when a crime was committed. If you admit to being in the area, they could use that against you. There is too much room for human error to make statements without having your lawyer present.
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Even if the police only want to speak with you (no arrest made yet), you should find a good criminal defense lawyer and have that person with you during the questioning. You may already have a criminal defense lawyer or need to contact one for the first time. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the lawyer you contact. The important thing is to have one present because that lawyer is obligated to speak on your behalf and to kept whatever you tell him in strict confidence.
Let Your Lawyer Work
Persons charged with a crime make some mistakes after they hire a criminal defense lawyer in the following ways:
• They try to tell the lawyer what he should do
• They demand trial in spite of a plea offer
• Insist on testifying at the trial
• Say too much while in jail
• Not making a statement when the attorney advises to do so
Naturally, a person charged with a crime is worried about the outcome of the ordeal. This prompts some to start researching local statutes to find precedents, possible defenses, and sentencing requirements. Then, they take this information to their lawyer and tell him what he should do. Just as you wouldn’t practice medicine if you are not a doctor, you should not tell a lawyer what he should do based on your understanding of the law.
Then there are times when the accused is guilty of a crime and a plea offer is made. This person’s attorney advises to take the plea but the defendant demands trial instead because he doesn’t like the sentencing recommendation. If a prosecuting attorney makes a plea offer, then the evidence is sufficient enough to prove who committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Going to trial will not change this fact and the turnout could prove to be worse. Remember that your defense attorney can also make a sentencing recommendation and that it is up to the judge in the end.
Finally, if you are sitting in jail while awaiting your trial, it is best not to discuss your case with anyone. This applies to personal conversation and over the telephone. Inmates have been known to take what a person says about his case and offer information in exchange for leniency. Also, telephone conversations are recorded with the exception of those to your lawyer. These realities could affect the outcome of your case if you say too much.
Your case is not over until the judge or jury gives the final decision. In the meantime, your criminal defense lawyer is skilled in defending you. Know what to do next if charged with a crime so that you realize the best outcome possible.