A lot of decisions are involved in making a determination as to when to hire a criminal lawyer. In any circumstance where you might find yourself in need of some legal advice in a criminal matter, there are specific places along the timeline where you may need to make the call for help.
One important point to keep in mind is that the guilt or innocence of the person under suspicion does not matter one way or the other. Someone who is definitely guilty may be better advised to consult with a lawyer earlier in the process, but even an innocent bystander needs to understand the risk he or she is taking by speaking with someone who has the power to charge people with a crime, such as a police officer asking about an alleged DUI incident.
In an effort to explain your conduct on a particular matter, it is sometimes possible to talk yourself into being charged with something else solely on the basis of what you just testified to.
One law enforcement technique is to pressure you to reveal information by holding some danger of prosecution over your head. Whether the charge is legitimate doesn’t always matter—just the idea that it can be made to stick can hurry you to cooperate with the authorities.
Such bullying tactics are almost never attempted on those who have obtained proper legal representation.
Knowing when to hire a criminal lawyer also sometimes depends on what sort of feedback you’re receiving when contacted by the police on any matter. The first rule of police investigations is to give away nothing to the person being interviewed. This means the police wish to acquire information from you but may be evasive or even flatly deny any request for enlightenment as to what it is all about.
In particular, when the police want to know information that is about you personally—your whereabouts at some time, what kind of car you drive, whether you know certain people, and similar items—you need to be especially reluctant to provide any answers at all until you’ve had the chance to hire a criminal lawyer.
Any answer you give to questions like these can end up costing you dearly, no matter your actual involvement with the matter at hand. Always use a lawyer to handle requests for information about you personally.
The potential drawbacks of speaking with the authorities without a lawyer can often outweigh the theoretical advantages of assisting in a criminal investigation. The ability to judge when it is and is not smart to speak to the police is one of the most important reasons why you might want a lawyer.
Understanding the advantages of remaining silent as an initial strategy doesn’t mean you don’t want to assist the police. It means that the first order of business for anybody involved in any law enforcement investigation is to ensure their own safety.
What Not to Do
Under no circumstances should you ever lie to the police—that alone can be a criminal offense. Also, never admit to some lesser crime or violation of the law. The best policy is always to be respectfully silent and explain that you would prefer having the advice of a lawyer before proceeding.
The investigators much prefer having information handed to them for free rather than having to make some sort of deal to gain access to it, but there is really nothing you can gain and much you can lose by not adhering to the cardinal rule of having a lawyer present whenever you talk to the police.
Don’t go without the services of a criminal lawyer with Priale & Racine, PLLC.