A Former Prosecutor Defending Clients in Wyoming and South Dakota
While some criminal charges come upon you suddenly, other times you can see them coming. When you know you are under investigation for a crime it can be hard to know whether you need a criminal attorney or not. But waiting to schedule a consultation could affect your rights and your freedom.
In this post, I will explain why it is never too early to call a criminal lawyer. I will summarize the investigation process and explain how an attorney can help, even before charges are filed. I will also give you tips to avoid accidentally waiving important constitutional rights.
When you are the target of a criminal investigation, it can feel like you are all alone against the police, the prosecutors, and the government. As investigators execute warrants, tear through your things, and pepper you with questions, you need to know your rights. First and foremost: you have a right to the assistance of a lawyer.
Police officers are often well-trained in investigation. They know how to convince you it is a good idea, even in your best interest, to talk to them right away. They may say things like "Why don't you just come answer a few questions? I'm sure we can clear this whole thing up." But what they don't tell you is that whatever you say will be used against you later.
Police are only required to remind you of your right to remain silent if they question you while you are in custody. So if you volunteer to answer their questions, you may never hear that you could have a criminal lawyer by your side to help you through the process.
If the police want to talk to you, call a criminal lawyer. We can serve as shields between you and the officers. Most of the time, answering police questions is simply not going to help. Having a lawyer on retainer to say "no" for you makes sure you don't unintentionally say something that could hurt you later.
In the rare occurrence that a pre-charge interview is a good idea, we criminal lawyers are trained to read between the lines of police questioning. We will help you know when to answer and when to "plead the 5th Amendment" and remain silent. We can also advise you objectively about the result of the questioning. Police officers will usually make you feel like you screwed up, or should have done more. You need someone in your corner to tell you when you have said enough.
If the police have "probable cause" to believe you possess evidence of a crime, they can get a search warrant to search anywhere they reasonably think the evidence is located. This could include your home, your car, or your computer.
If the police serve you with a search warrant call a criminal lawyer, immediately. Your attorney can review the search warrant and make sure the police only search where they are allowed to under the order.
Often the police will not give you time to schedule the search if they are worried about evidence disappearing. You will need to get on the phone right in front of the officer to call your attorney. If possible, ask them to remain outside your home or car with you until your attorney can arrive. You will not be allowed to go back inside without an officer's escort.
If you don't have time or can't reach your attorney during the search make sure to get a copy of the search warrant. Your attorney can review what happened for constitutional violations. If the police didn't do what they were supposed to, the evidence they collected can be excluded from trial.
A police investigation will usually result in some form of criminal charges. If the police call you and ask you to come in, or if you receive a notice to appear before a district, circuit, or municipal court, that is a red flag that it is time to contact a criminal lawyer. By retaining an attorney at the first sign of a warrant, you may be able to avoid the humiliation and inconvenience of an arrest. Your lawyer may be able to arrange to bring you into court instead.
If you believe you are the target of a police investigation, it is never too early to call a criminal lawyer. At Just Criminal Law, our skilled criminal defense team is ready to jump to your aid. We offer free consultations, often within days of your call. Don't face the police alone. Call 307-686-6556 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our office in Gillette, Wyoming, or over the phone.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes only. This information is not offered as legal advice. A person accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney before making decisions that have legal consequences.