If you find yourself under arrest or accused of a crime, the most important things you can do are to keep calm and remember your rights. Even if you know you’re innocent, it’s wisest to follow the correct procedure in order to avoid unnecessary complications.
1. Don’t Volunteer Any Information
It’s your right to remain silent, and it’s important to use that right. Many people who were innocent of crimes have said the wrong things to police and ended up complicating their cases, and even being found guilty as a result. The only information you should voluntarily give are your personal details. If police wish to question you, politely but firmly insist on seeing your lawyer first.
2. See a Lawyer as Soon as Possible
Choose an expert in criminal defense. Some law firms, like Pringle Chivers Sparks Teskey, are specialists in criminal law and only handle criminal defense cases. As such, they’ll understand your case and the best way to handle it. Just seeing “a lawyer” won’t necessarily help you. There are many different types of legal professionals. These include personal injury lawyers, employment lawyers, property lawyers, family lawyers and many more.
If you can’t afford to hire an attorney yourself, the state will appoint one for you. Don’t try representing yourself to the police or the law courts. Remember: until you have seen your lawyer, refrain from making any statements.
3. Remember That you are Innocent Until Proven Guilty
If you’re innocent of the crime you’ve been accused of, you may feel the need to vindicate yourself. Don’t fall into this trap. You might inadvertently say something that can be used as evidence against you. Remember, you are innocent until the legal system can prove that you’re guilty. That’s not the same thing as needing to prove your innocence. It’s already assumed that you are innocent.
4. Be Present For Your Court Date (If Any)
Being accused of having committed a crime doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be charged with one. When possible, criminal defense attorneys will intervene before charges are laid, and they may be able to prevent you from having to face charges at all.
If you are charged, there’s a good chance that you’ll be released, either on your own recognizance, or on bail while you wait for your day in court. Don’t miss it! Failing to be present at court opens you to further charges and means that the judge may issue a warrant for your arrest. Now that you have been accused of a crime, it’s important to see the process through for the most positive outcome possible.
5. Follow Your Attorney’s Advice
Don’t try to talk to the victim or to witnesses yourself, even if you know you aren’t guilty. Discuss your case with your attorney and follow the advice that he or she will give you. Trying to play private detective, or allowing your friends to do so, will only add to your troubles. Play it by the book.
If you aren’t guilty, and have representation, the chances of you being proved guilty are very small, and if you’re guilty, cooperating well with the legal process could lead to lighter penalties. Work within the justice system to stand your best chance of a just outcome.
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