Criminal filings in the U.S district courts have increased by 11% year-over-year.
If there’s a chance a criminal case will be filed against you, don’t wait to start researching for a competent attorney. Instead, hire a lawyer right away. Knowing when to get a lawyer can help you avoid serious legal charges later on down the road.
On the fence about paying for an attorney? Here are seven reasons why you should get a lawyer before charges are filed. By understanding the full scope of the situation, you can make a more informed decision for your future.
Don’t wait until the last minute. Keep reading to discover the top reasons you’d be better off hiring a lawyer without delay.
1. Avoid Aggressive Charges
The steps your lawyer takes during a pre-filing investigation could impact the prosecutor’s decision.
During their initial investigation, the prosecutor might jump to file serious charges against you. At this point, they only have the police’s initial investigation to base the charges on, though. If you don’t already have a defense lawyer running interference, and interfacing with the government, there is literally nothing stopping them from “throwing the book” at you. Oftentimes, over-filing a case is a good way to “pinch” a defendant, effectively coercing them into cooperation or taking a deal to a lesser charge.
Hiring a lawyer will ensure someone is there early and often to keep the government honest. This will invariably help to avoid the chance that they’ll file outrageous charges against you. Because, unfortunately, this happens all too often.
Some defense attorneys have strong relationships with prosecutors in the area. Make sure to find a local lawyer with years of experience working similar cases. It’s likely they’ve developed relationships with prosecuting attorneys during that time. This could benefit the outcome of your case by making it easier for your lawyer to negotiate with the government on your behalf.
If you’re asking yourself “do I need a lawyer,” then you probably do. Start searching for a local attorney who has experience with the type of crime or crimes that you may be charged with.
2. Contact Law Enforcement
It’s normal and almost always expected for the police to try and speak with you before charges are officially filed against you. They’ll use this conversation to gain more insight into the case, while also working to extract incriminating statements from you. In many cases, the police will try to sound casual and claim that they’re on your side, and here to help you.
REMEMBER: they can use anything you say against you in court. If you are being investigated for a crime, you should almost never speak with law enforcement on your own without a lawyer.
If the police try to contact you in person or over the phone, contact a lawyer right away. Knowing when to find a lawyer can help you avoid saying something detrimental to your case. Instead, let your lawyer speak for you. This all but guarantees that you incriminate yourself.
Your lawyer can also assess police conduct, and gauge how interested they are in seeing you prosecuted. They can also help to ensure that law enforcement remains within the legal limits when obtaining evidence for your case. An experienced lawyer will understand the proper procedures and potential loopholes. Knowing that a lawyer is already involved early into a criminal investigation will remind investigators that someone else is watching and that they ought to play fair. Essentially, your lawyer is there to help keep the government honest, and will work to ensure they don’t break the rules (infringe on your rights)
If the evidence is gathered unlawfully, your lawyer can file pre-trial motions to suppress that effectively ask a court to have the evidence thrown out. Pre-trial motions could even result in your case being dismissed, depending on the facts.
3. Monitor the Case
Are you still wondering why you should get a lawyer before charges are filed? Consider how much you know about the status of your case. It’s not the police’s job to keep you informed about their investigation.
The pre-filing investigation could take weeks or even years. It might take time before the police seek a search or arrest warrant, or ask a prosecutor to file charges against you. Your lawyer can assist in keeping you up-to-date during that time. Otherwise, the police will keep you in the dark during the span of their investigation.
4. Understand the Charges
If you’re accused of a crime, you’ll need to determine:
- What the charges mean
- How the charges can impact your life
- What to do and say
Your lawyer can help you better understand the charges that you’re potentially facing. Look for a lawyer who has relevant case experience. They’ll consider what factors (the leniency of judges, prosecutors, criminal history, and other case-related information etc.) could impact your case.
There are over 813,900 lawyers in the US. But not every lawyer has the expertise you need.
When searching for a lawyer, make sure to choose someone with experience handling cases similar to yours. Your lawyer will already know the laws and procedures relevant to your case.
Make sure to ask your lawyer about the recent cases they have handled. You should know what the outcome was for the cases that are similar to yours.
5. Prepare Your Defense
Preparing for your defense is one of the main reasons why you should get a lawyer before charges are filed. Your lawyer will review your case and start crafting your legal defense strategy right away. They can get started before it’s too late–unreasonably delay in a case can make it difficult to gather evidence. Potential witnesses might move, or die. And memories fade over time. The sooner in time your defense takes shape, the better and stronger it is likely to be. The more time your lawyer has to prepare, the stronger your defense will be.
6. Start an Investigation
Your lawyer will want to gather their own information when building your case. Their investigation could help you avoid serious charges. Your lawyer might gather evidence that could exonerate you of the crime. Your lawyer can also show the prosecutor new evidence that could reduce the charges.
7. Protect Your Future
An experienced lawyer will fight for you and your future. With their help, you could get the charges reduced or dismissed, even if it’s at a later date. They could also help you avoid serious penalties or get the entire case thrown out.
Felonies can jeopardize your reputation and future career. An experienced lawyer can work to reduce your charges and keep a felony off of your record.
Get a Lawyer Before Charges Are Filed
“Do I need a lawyer?” If you’re under investigation for a crime (or have already been charged), then the answer is yes.
Don’t try to handle a serious legal situation on your own. Instead, consider these reasons why you should get a lawyer before charges are filed. By hiring a lawyer, you can protect your own best interests and your future.
We fight to win. Contact us to discuss the details of your case today.