What to Do if You’ve Been Charged With a Crime?

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

Few things are scarier than being charged with a crime. If the charge is your first one, and serious in nature, it’s even more frightening. And while your mind is probably spinning, it’s absolutely imperative that you slow down and make calculated decisions that protect your best interests. How you respond to a criminal charge will, to a degree, impact the outcome.

4 Things You Need to Do

In most areas of your life, you know how to respond to adversity. You’re prepared for whatever comes your way and have the experience necessary to rise up and meet the challenge. When it comes to a criminal charge, you don’t have that same level of expertise. This is something totally new and it’s difficult to know how to proceed.

Every situation is unique, but you can put yourself on the right track by doing the following:

1. Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent

It’s a TV cliché these days, but an arresting officer will read your rights and speak the words, “You have the right to remain silent … ” Don’t gloss over these rights. While you probably have a lot to say, the easiest way to avoid incriminating yourself and digging a deeper hole is to stay quiet. You’ll have your time to formulate a defense or rebuttal – now is not the time.

2. Find the Right Attorney

One of the most important choices you’ll make in this process is the decision regarding which attorney to hire. While you always have access to a court-appointed defense attorney, you really want to look for a lawyer who possesses certain qualities, such as these:

  • Experience is very important. Someone fresh out of law school might be sharp and talented, but do they have the courtroom experience needed to fight your charges?
  • Interestingly, it’s helpful to hire an attorney with a prosecutorial background. Many attorneys, like Jason A. Volet in New Jersey, actually use their experience as prosecutors to provide even better defense. This can be helpful.
  • There are a lot of seedy lawyers out there, but you’d do well to find someone who is honest. This ensures you can trust them with your situation, rather than feeling like you’re just another case.

There are obviously other things to think about – including cost – but vetting a defense attorney based on these three factors will usually lead to a good selection.

3. Don’t Talk to Anyone

Unless you’re talking with your attorney, shut up! Spouting off details of the case to your friends and family will do nothing but harm you, as will getting close with your cellmate. (There’s a reason jailhouse “snitches” appear in court so often.) Just be quiet.

4. Let Your Attorney Guide You

You might not always like what your attorney tells you, but remember that he’s the one with the law degree – not the other way around. You hired a lawyer because you recognized your need for help. Don’t make the mistake of pushing your own agenda.

Trying to tell your attorney how to craft your defense or what key decisions to make is like telling a mechanic how to fix your car when you have no knowledge of what’s going on underneath the hood. If you’ve done a good job of selecting an honest, talented, and experienced attorney, you shouldn’t have to think twice about accepting the advice they provide.

Don’t Delay in Seeking Help

You shouldn’t let any time pass before coming up with a plan and contacting the appropriate parties to get your legal defense rolling. Time is precious and the more of it you give to your attorneys, the better they can serve you.

As difficult as it can be to motivate yourself to do anything at this moment, a proactive approach will give you a much better chance of obtaining a successful outcome.