Being arrested and charged with a crime is a traumatic experience.
You worry about fines, jail, consequences for your family, and even the social stigma of being a “criminal”.
First of all, don’t panic. By coming to my website you’re starting the process of sorting out all this mess and getting some professional advice. I cannot stress exactly how important it is that you get a lawyer to help you through the consequences of your arrest and your trip through the court system.
I have spent 13 years of my life almost exclusively doing criminal defense cases. I’ve seen it all, so whatever you have to say is not likely to shock me. I won’t judge you for whatever you’re accused of, and most importantly everything we discuss regarding your case is confidential unless you explicitly say otherwise.
Rule number 1 – DO NOT TALK TO THE POLICE. They may contact you and ask for a statement, try to act like your buddy, or even threaten you, but they are only trying to gather evidence against you. Politely tell the police that you do not wish to speak, and that any further communications should go through your lawyer. End of conversation. We all feel the pressure to cooperate with the police – they are the authority figures who are there to protect us from bad guys. Be polite, but stick to your guns. Even if they arrest you, staying silent keeps them from getting any more ammunition against you.
Rule number 2 – Contact an attorney as soon as humanly possible after your arrest. If you’re in jail – use that phone to contact a competent lawyer, and don’t be afraid to ask the court for a public defender if you aren’t able to hire counsel. Don’t be afraid to shop around – there are plenty of local attorneys, and personality compatibility is a huge factor in having a lawyer you can trust and work with. Make sure it’s a lawyer who has the time to devote to your case. Ask them directly how many public defense cases they take, and how many hours a week they spend in court on other matters. Any private lawyer who takes more than 50 public defense cases a year is already a full time lawyer for the county, and won’t be able to provide you with the attention you deserve.
Rule number 3 – Do not discuss specifics of your case with friends or family. These conversations are not confidential and could come back to bite you if that person is subpoenaed to testify against you. The only confidential conversations are with your attorney, and so long as you’re not describing plans to commit a future crime, anything you say to them regarding your case cannot be disclosed to anyone else without your consent.
Rule number 4 – Keep your nose clean. Any new misbehavior or arrests could seriously damage your ability to defend your case, and can result in stiffer penalties even if you aren’t charged with anything out of those accusations.
Rule number 5 – Stay calm. It’s not the end of the world, and you will get through this with the right attitude and the right assistance.
First of all, don’t panic.