When Do I Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
If you have been contacted by the police or a government agency, you may be wondering if you need a lawyer. Sometimes, police or other government authorities simply want to talk to you to learn more about the basic facts in a case and not because you are a suspect. However, you will not know their true intention and they can change direction in their investigation and focus on you. So, how do you know when you may benefit from hiring a criminal defense lawyer? Keep the following in mind when making that decision.
The Police or a Government Agency Wants to Question You
They may come to your home or place of business to question you. Though they may not have arrested you, it’s still a possibility. The authorities generally have leeway to lie, ask trick questions or take other steps to confuse you into saying what they want or need to hear. You can politely tell the officer or government agent that you will not talk to them without an attorney present. This does not mean you are guilty of anything; it simply means you are protecting your legal rights and choose to have counsel. A criminal defense attorney can help you avoid self-incriminating yourself.
Have You Been Charged With a Crime?
Unless there is sufficient evidence to charge you with a crime, the police typically only have 24-72 hours before they must release you. Even if they have not charged you, it may be prudent to engage a lawyer to protect your rights. An attorney may also be able to get you released before the 72 hours is up. In the event that you are charged with a crime, you should request that you only be questioned with an attorney present. Until your attorney arrives, do not answer any questions.
You Are Headed to Court
Although you have the right to defend yourself in court, even skilled attorneys very rarely represent themselves. This is true for many reasons, not the least of which is that someone who is accused of a crime needs representation from someone who fully understands the law and can remain objective. Objectivity is key for a solid offense and defense. In addition, you are not likely to understand the laws and legal process as well as a criminal offenses attorney DC relies on who does this for a living.
Request a Case Consultation
There are many good reasons why you may need a criminal defense attorney. If you cannot afford counsel on your own, the court will not hesitate to appoint a public defender to represent you. Many criminal defense lawyers offer a free initial consultation during which you can discuss your case. Request a case review from a criminal defense lawyer to determine if he or she can help you.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Firm of Frederick J. Brynn, P.C. for their insight into criminal defense practice.