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Published On: Tue, Jan 18th, 2022

Steps to Take When Accused of a Crime

Whether you are guilty or not, if you have been accused of a crime, Ross Lutz Barristers suggests there is a specific set of steps you need to take during the legal process to make sure your rights are protected. Being accused of a crime is not enough to convict you, but you do want to do whatever is in your best interests with regard to your statement to your accuser or the police. Taking the steps mentioned here will be beneficial to you down the road if and when your case goes to trial.

lady justice with scales

photo/ Sang Hyun Cho

Step 1: Contact a Defense Lawyer

Even if you haven’t been formally accused of a crime, but your accuser has told you they intend to pursue charges, it’s time to contact a defense lawyer who specializes in criminal cases. You want to be prepared for the possibility that you’ll be arrested at some point in the near future, so having a lawyer ready to handle your case is vital to your plight. Contact a defense lawyer as soon as you know you’re in trouble and set up a consultation.

If you’ve already been arrested, don’t say anything to the police until you’ve contacted a lawyer. This is your right and you should take it seriously. The police are hoping you’ll talk to them without a lawyer present, but this is almost always a bad idea, even if you’re completely and entirely innocent. You might say something you think is helpful, but is actually detrimental to your case. Just say that you want to speak to your lawyer. Then say nothing else to the police until you’ve consulted with your defense lawyer and they’ve advised you on what to say.

Step 2: Meet With Your Defense Lawyer

Once you retain your defense lawyer, you’ll want to set up a meeting with them to discuss your case. Remember that anything you tell your lawyer will be held in the strictest confidence. You should be completely honest with your lawyer and tell them everything you know about your situation. They can only help you if they have all the facts and if they’re going to be surprised in the future by evidence the prosecutor has that you know about, this could really harm your case.

Additionally, when your lawyer knows all the facts about your situation, they can properly advise you on what actions to take. Your lawyer might have you talk to the police with them present, advise you not to talk to them and wait to see if charges are filed, or begin plea bargain discussions (if you’re guilty and have mitigating circumstances). Whatever your lawyer advises, you don’t have to take their suggestions, but know that they can terminate their representation if you don’t agree with their approach (and you’ll probably want to do that anyway if you and your lawyer aren’t on the same page). 

Step 3: Gather Evidence and Witnesses

Your lawyer will help you with this step by telling you what you need to gather to support your case. You may need to give them information about witnesses or hand over hard evidence that helps prove your innocence. Whatever you do, don’t destroy evidence, but don’t hand it over to the police either. Make sure your lawyer has it so they can advise you best on how to move forward.

Conclusion

In all honesty, you really only have to follow one step if you’re accused of a crime: contact a defense lawyer. They will let you know how to proceed from there. So, if this is the only step you remember, it’s definitely the most important one that will best protect your rights.

Author: Patrick

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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