The idea of being independent is a powerful cultural force in the United States. Most adults don’t like to ask for help, especially if they have to pay for it. People like to try to solve their own problems as frequently as possible.
Still, there are certain situations where bringing in professional help is usually the right approach. Facing criminal allegations is a perfect example. Someone who has never been in state custody or experienced a criminal trial before will not know the right way to handle these stressful experiences.
How soon should you hire an attorney to help you with a criminal matter?
When you learn about the police investigation
Did you take a 3-day weekend to run some personal errands on a Monday, only to come back to intense office gossip about the police showing up to your work while you were gone? Learning that police officers or federal investigators have spoken with your co-workers, your neighbors or your family members is a potentially frightening warning that you are under intense legal scrutiny. Your employer may even cooperate, giving the state access to company records.
You may have discovered police officers going through your trash or opened the front door to them coming by to supposedly “casually” speak to you. Rather than waiting for the police to come and put you in handcuffs, talking to a lawyer as soon as you learn that the police have targeted you with their investigation can help you better protect yourself.
As soon as an officer detains or arrest you
Some people don’t realize that they are the subject of an investigation or they get arrested just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Rather than trying to sort out the details by talking to the police, your first step after an arrest should be to invoke your right to silence and your right to an attorney.
A lawyer could assist you in cooperating with an investigation, for example, while avoiding any actions or statements that could implicate you or hurt your chances of a successful defense in court. You don’t need the state to arraign you with a crime to invoke your right to legal representation. As soon as you find yourself in state custody, you can ask for an attorney.
Knowing and asserting your right to legal representation will help you when you find yourself facing criminal allegations.