What to Do if Arrested and/or Charged with a Crime

May 3, 2017 · Posted in Legal 

It ranks high on many people’s list of worst fears: being arrested, charged, and convicted of a crime, particularly when it’s a crime one didn’t even commit. Privacy is violated, reputation is tainted, finances are thrown into disarray, and of course, there is the potential for being sentenced to years behind bars. In short, it’s a fate no one wants for themselves especially if they are truly innocent.

If one finds themselves or a loved one in this situation, the immediate instinct is to fall apart in despair. The very concept of being suspected let alone charged with a crime is surely enough to send even the most composed and stoic individual into a spiral of uncertainty and anxiety. However, now is not the time to become passive and sheepish. Now is the time to do everything possible to fight back. Here’s how:

Don’t talk to the cops without a lawyer

An hour of lecture would be required to fully explain why it’s basically never a good idea to speak with police without an attorney present when suspected of a crime. Just trust this advice. The cops even give you the same warning: “…anything said can and will be used against you…” They aren’t just saying it to sound cool, and in fact, they don’t even need to issue the warning anymore.

Get a good lawyer

Lawyers specialize in different areas of law, so seek out a criminal defense attorney rather than somebody with an expertise in another area (a good lawyer will refuse cases outside her wheelhouse anyway). It’s important to know what a lawyer charges is not always going to correlate with how well a job they do, but one thing is certain: private counsel will do a far better job than the overworked public defender.

Guilty or not guilty?

This one should be easy. Is the evidence overwhelmingly indicative of guilt? Are you in fact guilty? If so, work a plea deal if possible. If not, and the judge refuses to throw out the case, then go to trial.

Prepare for trial

Give a defense lawyer several thousand dollars and it’s expected they will leave no stone unturned in pursuit of disproving the prosecution’s case against you. This is what they want you to think but often times the accused needs to take an active role in their own defense for the best results. This means, for example, finding a reputable mobile phone forensics expert if it’s believed data on an old iPhone might contradict otherwise damning state evidence.

Clean up

People shouldn’t be judged for piercings, tattoos, shaggy hair, or a preference for street fashions. Unfortunately they are and if the next several years of life are on the line due to an upcoming criminal trial, it’s time to clean up the act a little. Take out the facial piercings and fake teeth, leave the jewelry at home, and get a haircut. It may very well be the case that during voir dire not a single prospective juror says they would judge someone based on appearance alone. That still doesn’t mean they won’t.

Stay out of trouble

If out on bail prior to trial, it’s imperative to stay away from any potential riff raff, drama, chaos, or adventure. Basically avoid anything and everything fun. Even a round of miniature golf could appear damning if someone testifies about it later. Stay at home, watch television, and stay out of trouble.

Hope for the best and prep for the worst

Keeping a positive attitude is important for preventing the anxiety of an upcoming criminal trial contributing to mental imbalance. With that said, pretending there isn’t a significant risk of having the foreseeable future contained within a prison could lead to calamity on the outside if indeed found guilty. Get affairs in order as if a guilty verdict were guaranteed, to reduce the fallout on friends, family, and others if the worst is to happen.

It goes without saying that those who are out there committing crimes need to be tracked down, arrested, charged, and put away. However, there’s no telling when the authorities are going to make a mistake and focus on the wrong person. If this happens to you or a loved one, make sure to take the right steps to maximize the chances of a positive outcome.

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