Facing criminal charges can be overwhelming and scary. Your freedom is at risk and if you do not choose the right legal representation, you could face time in prison, severe legal fines, and even a permanent record that affects future employment opportunities. If you are wondering what to do when being charged with a crime, remember these important steps.
Request legal representation
Fortunately, our legal system allows anyone being faced with criminal charges the use of a criminal defense lawyer. Even if you are unable to hire your own criminal defense attorney, you have a right to a court appointed one. If you are arrested with criminal charges, remember to avoid saying anything that could implicate you. Instead, request a criminal defense attorney and discuss what to and what not to say with them. This could protect you later in court and can ensure that you do not make a statement that can later be used against you. You actually have a right to remain silent. The Fifth Amendment protects against self incrimination )the right to remain silent) and double jeopardy.
If possible, choose your own legal representation
Although a court appointed attorney is better than no attorney, hiring your own legal representation is serving your best interests. Court appointed attorneys are often overworked and do not have sufficient time to evaluate your case. Although they will likely attempt to help you, they may encourage you to take a plea deal, even if you are innocent. If do not know what to do when being charged with a crime, make sure that legal representation is at the top of your list. If possible, meet with and interview different criminal defense attorneys. With 1,315,561 lawyers in the United States, you will have many local ones to choose from.
Be honest with your attorney
Being honest with your attorney gives you the best chance at winning your case. Holding back information can leave your attorney unprepared when it does surface. For example, an average drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before the first arrest. Just because you were arrested for drunk driving does not mean that you are guilty of previous drinking and driving, but if this is the case, it is best to inform your DUI attorney. Otherwise, if proof of such comes up later, they will not be able to properly defend you. Many DUI arrests lead to defendants not knowing what to do when being charged with a crime, and honesty is always a good starting point.
Consider your charges and plea bargains
There are times, even when innocent of charges, that taking a plea deal makes more sense. Taking a case to trial can be expensive and timely. Plea deals are often very fair and require minimal fees, court classes, and a mark on the legal record. However, it is up to you to consider how the plea deal will affect your life. Your DUI or criminal defense attorney is a valuable resource for better understanding the DUI law or implications of accepting the plea deal. Another example of when it makes sense to take a plea deal is when there are many priors. You might not know what to do when being charged with a crime, but priors can severely affect a legal case.
Every day, thousands of people are charged with a criminal crime. Many of these defendants do not know what to do when being charged with a crime. It is best to leave the process to an experienced legal representative. If possible, choose your own criminal attorney. If you cannot afford to do this, a court appointed one is better than nothing. Always hold information back until you have spoken with your attorney. Remember that sometimes a plea deal makes more sense. Find legal representation that you trust and stick with them.