Top Ten Things You Should Do When Charged with a Criminal Offense

Top Ten Things You Should Do When Charged with a Criminal Offense

Criminal Law

After an arrest, the immediate steps you take can significantly change the outcome of your case. Here are the top ten things you should do when charged with a criminal offense.

1. Contact A Criminal Defense Lawyer. 

As soon as possible, contact a criminal defense lawyer. Time is not on your side when it comes to building a defense. You want your lawyer to be able to guide you through the criminal justice system and begin investigating your case immediately. The more time you have to work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, the better your outcome will be.

2. Do Not Resist Arrest.

If you haven’t yet been arrested, remember that it’s never a good idea to resist. Fighting with an officer, yelling, screaming, or creating a scene will only worsen matters. It’s always a good idea to avoid conflict with law enforcement. You’ll have your opportunity to state your case and fight for your innocence, but the moment of the arrest is not the appropriate time.

3. Take Note Of Your Experiences While In Custody. 

Remember that police make mistakes, break the rules, and often behave inappropriately while taking an individual into custody. Take note of their behavior and how long you’re held before you’re charged. If laws are violated while you’re being processed and held in custody, your lawyer should know about it.

4. Express Your Right To Remain Silent. 

You should be respectful to police officers, but remember that you do NOT have to speak to anyone after your arrest. You have the right to remain silent and have your lawyer present when you’re being interrogated by law enforcement. You may be tempted to give your side of the story, plead your innocence, or explain the situation. However, it’s important to avoid this temptation at all costs. Your words can be used against you and misconstrued by the police. Do not speak until your lawyer arrives.

5. Give Your Attorney As Many Details As Possible. 

Once you secure counsel, give your attorney as many details as possible regarding your charges. What happened? When did it happen? Where did it happen? Were there any witnesses? What evidence does the prosecutor possibly have? The more details your criminal defense lawyer has, the more prepared they will be for the pretrial conference phase.

6. Plead Not Guilty. 

Some defendants do not have a chance to speak with an attorney before their arraignment hearing and make the mistake of pleading guilty. Law enforcement and prosecutors use scare tactics to make some individuals believe that they have no options and the evidence is stacked against them. However, once you plead guilty, you’re accepting your charges as truth and facing your sentence. Your defense attorney will have little room for negotiation if you plead guilty. It’s always advised to plead not guilty.

7. Attend All Court Appearances. 

If you’re released on bail, do not try to run or avoid court appearances. Running from the problem will always do more harm than good. Not showing up for court will also make your consequences more severe.

When Should You Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney? -

8. Dress Professionally And Act Respectfully At Your Hearings.

When appearing before a judge or jury, be sure to act and dress appropriately. This may seem obvious or minor, but appearance can significantly influence thoughts, opinions, verdicts, judgments, or even sentencing. Being charged with a crime is a stressful, frustrating, and emotional experience. It can be tough to remain composed in court while someone accuses you of a crime. However, remember to follow your counsel’s guidance and try to stay calm and collected in a courtroom.

9. Avoid Further Legal Trouble. 

It’s vital that you avoid another arrest if you’re out on bail. Another arrest will immediately make your case that much more difficult to fight. Try to avoid individuals who negatively influence you, and don’t put yourself into situations that can lead to more conflict with law enforcement.

10. Communicate With Your Criminal Defense Lawyer When New Details Arise. 

A new detail or element about your charge might suddenly come to mind throughout your case. When this happens, contact your lawyer immediately. Even if you think it’s a minor detail that won’t lead to any new conclusions, it may be more significant than you think. Always contact your lawyer to share further details if they arise.

Key Takeaways

As an experienced criminal defense attorney with more than 27 years of experience, I highly advise that after an arrest, the most important thing you can do is call a skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the more time they will have to build your defense. Be respectful with the police and do not resist arrest. However, remember that you have the right to remain silent, and you do not have to speak to the police without your attorney present.

It’s also advised not to plead guilty. Pleading guilty almost guarantees a conviction and sentence and leaves your lawyer with little room for further investigation. Always attend all court appearances and act respectfully. If a new detail in your case comes to mind, remember to share this detail with your lawyer as soon as possible, no matter how minor it may appear to be.

For more information or if you have been charged with a criminal offense in Rhode Island contact the Law Office of John E. Macdonald, Inc today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your defense options.