When Is It Time to Call a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
Waiting until you've been actually charged with an offense may put a person at a disadvantage when trying to present a criminal defense. At the same time, the simple fact is that criminal defense attorneys cost money, and a prolonged effort can quickly get expensive. For those who are worried they might need counsel, this opens up a major question about when they should get in touch with a lawyer.
Questioning by Police
If the cops come to you with questions about an incident, it may be prudent to have a lawyer present. Even if you feel you did nothing wrong, you have the right to have a criminal defense attorney present. Under strict questioning, it's possible that something that might be construed as criminal conduct may come out, and it's best to have a lawyer present in order to limit lines of inquiry.
The police may represent the situation as being one where you're not facing charges, describing you as a witness or stating that they just need to clear some things up. Insist upon having counsel present. The hundreds of dollars it may cost today might save you thousands down the road.
Even in circumstances where it's clear that the police do want you to be a witness in a case, it's worth consulting with a criminal defense lawyer. The police may very well be looking out for your best interests, but two things can create trouble for witnesses. First, the police may ask you to step over a line where you end up exposed to criminal liability due to an admission or how your testimony ends up being represented. Second, the individual you've been asked to bear witness against may decide to deflect blame toward an alleged witness.
If you're thinking about doing something and you're not sure how legal it might be, you should talk with a professional. Be aware that the attorney-client privilege does not protect conversations about plans to do things that are illegal. Once your lawyer has informed you that something is illegal, treat that as a stop sign.
Served Court Documents
Once you have been served any type of court documents, such as an arrest warrant, a search warrant, or a notice to appear, you'll want to get in touch with a criminal defense firm like Funderburk and Lane. A lawyer can see that your rights will be protected throughout the entire process.