There is a common misconception that you don’t need to hire an attorney until you are indicted or charged with a crime. While it may not be absolutely necessary, hiring an attorney before you are charged has a lot of advantages and perhaps help you avoid being charged with a crime altogether. Law enforcement might suggest that you won’t get into trouble if you cooperate, but they will take advantage of you at every opportunity. An attorney can help you level the playing field and protect yourself against the unfair tactics that police and investigators like to use.
If you have any connection to a crime that the police are investigating, you should assume that you are a suspect if they are talking to you about it. They are not obligated to tell you that you are a suspect, and they might actually try to convince you that you’re not in the hopes that you’ll incriminate yourself. If you haven’t any connection to the crime in question, the best thing you can do is hire an attorney to represent you in the investigation.
First and foremost, you have the right to hire an attorney at any time and for any reason. Too many people think that only guilty people hire attorneys. This misconception leads a lot of people into trouble by implicating themselves or otherwise helping law enforcement build their case. The police may tell you that you don’t need a lawyer or suggest that only guilty people need an attorney. This is not true. You need an attorney to protect yourself from being charged with a crime you didn’t commit.
The police want to get you to incriminate yourself. They may try to pressure you into disclosing things you aren’t required to discuss or try to convince you that it’s in your best interest to cooperate. If they decide to file charges, another common tactic is to “overcharge” - charge you with crimes you didn’t commit or with so many crimes that you’re pressured to plead guilty. Unless you have an attorney, there is nothing to stop law enforcement from engaging in these overaggressive tactics designed to make it easier for them to get a conviction.
One of the principal advantages of having an attorney is that they can speak to investigators on your behalf. In fact, once you have hired an attorney, the police and prosecutors cannot speak to you without your lawyer present. The investigation is a critical stage in the criminal process, and incriminating statements can be incredibly damaging to your case. An attorney can help you make sure you don’t say anything that can be used against you later on.
If you’re under investigation or worried that you may be charged, you are likely under a great deal of scrutiny. Everything that you do and the people you speak to may be used by law enforcement to justify their belief that you committed a crime. Your attorney can give you the advice you need to get through the process and hopefully avoid making a bad situation worse.
Anything that you tell your attorney is held in the strictest confidence, and they will not share anything you tell them with the police or prosecutors. As a result, your attorney can explain the charges you may be facing and the strengths and weaknesses of the case against you. Armed with this knowledge, you and your attorney can then develop the best possible strategy for moving forward and facing the investigative process.
In addition to the other advantages noted above, your attorney can also influence whether you are charged with a crime or what charges are brought against you. Your attorney may already have a working, professional relationship with prosecutors, and can use this relationship to your benefit. Without an attorney, there is nothing to stop prosecutors from overcharging you or charging you with crimes you didn’t commit based on the one-sided evidence that they have collected.
Hiring an attorney before you are charged also gives them additional time to investigate your case. They may be able to assemble evidence that exonerates you, witnesses that contradict the police’s case or identify flaws or weaknesses in the case against you. Your attorney can then use the results of their investigation to persuade prosecutors to not file charges or file charges for a lesser crime.
Once charges are filed, time is not on your side. If charges are inevitable, the sooner you get an attorney involved, the better it is for your defense. Hiring an attorney before being charged or indicted gives your attorney more time to prepare your defense. The more time your attorney has, the stronger your defense will be and the more likely you will get a fair outcome.
An experienced criminal defense attorney has handled hundreds, maybe even thousands of cases before yours. They have the experience to know exactly what you’re up against, but also know that you can get through this and that fair results are possible. Your attorney can give you the perspective you need to face the investigation and possible charges calmly and with confidence.
If you’re under investigation or worried about criminal charges, you should understand that law enforcement and prosecutors are not on your side. Don’t leave your future in their hands - criminal defense attorney Lauren Wimmer can fight for you and protect your rights. She represents people accused of almost any crime across the Philadelphia metro area and provides her clients with an aggressive, dedicated approach. Don’t delay - call us at 215-712-1212 or contact us online to schedule a free and confidential consultation.