How to Work with Criminal Defense Lawyers
We have boiled this down to 4 phrases to try to make this easy to remember. The most important thing you can do is to get legal help right away.
- Get A Lawyer 2. Zip it 3. Stop it 4. Collect It
If your being accused of a crime you need to contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately. Being accused of a crime can change your life and seriously impact your future. Your freedom, employment, family and reputation may all be at risk. Aggressive criminal defense lawyers fight for you when these important values are at stake, which is why it is important to get in touch with an experienced attorney. Whether you are guilty or you are innocent, you need to get a criminal defense attorney right away and work with them from the beginning.
Steps in a Criminal Case:
If you are being accused of a crime, it is helpful to understand the steps involved in a criminal case. For your convenience, we have provided a link here to our guide. For now, it is more important to understand what you should do. Then, come back here and visit our page on the steps in criminal case (bookmark this and come back). As someone that is being charged with or accused of a crime, it is essential that you understand how the system works to the best of your ability. Criminal defense lawyers help you through this stressful time, but you should understand it the best that you can. As criminal defense lawyers that care, we believe the best client is an informed client.
- ZIP IT! DON’T TALK TO ANYONE ABOUT THE CRIME OR ANY CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING IT! CONTACT A LAWYER IMMEDIATELY
Do not talk to people in a jail cell with you, your family members, or even your spouse. This means anyone. Why? Any person can be called as a witness to testify to what you said about the crime. We all know people get it wrong when repeating what we say. Anyone that has played the telephone game as a child knows this (the one where you write down the message and then whisper it in someone’s ear and then they whisper to the next person etc.). You do not want someone repeating what you said wrong when your personal freedom and future is on the line.
Why shouldn’t you talk to other people about a crime or about what happened?
Even if you are innocent, this is very important. Everything you say, whether you deny the crime or admit to it, can be used against you in a court of law. The person that you are talking to can be called as a witness to testify to what you said. In court, a defendant’s statements are given special treatment where they can be interpreted as an admission and be used in evidence even if they are hearsay. So anyone you talk to about the crime may then testify about what you say.
With the police and even with other people, we have seen people claim a defendant confessed, when, in fact, he or she did not confess. We have seen other people misinterpret a statement to the detriment of the defendant. Therefore, it is important to not get in any discussion with the police or anyone else about what happened.
Commonly Asked Questions:
If I am telling people I am innocent and defending myself, why would it hurt to talk to someone about my case?
Frequently people do not recall conversations correctly and they may then say that you admitted to or said things you didn’t. Or, your genuine and true statements could also be used against you and taken out of context.
Why shouldn’t I talk to the police?
Many people mistakenly believe that when they talk to the police, and explain that they did not commit the crime, that they have not provided a statement. This is not true. Telling the police you did not commit the crime is still talking to the police. You need to assert your right to an attorney, by saying “I want an attorney.” Once you do that, the police are required to stop talking to you and asking you questions. If you tell the police you don’t want to make a statement, they can still keep asking you to make a statement until you may possibly even give in.
If a Cop, Police Officer or Child Protective Services Worker tries to talk to you, insist on a lawyer by saying “I want a lawyer. I’m not talking to you without a lawyer.” (You should be talking to no one, but talking to the police or a government agent is the worst possible thing you can do).
- [CALL] CONTACT A LAWYER IMMEDIATELY. It is essential to have a lawyer involved as soon as possible. A lawyer has been through the criminal process hundreds of times and has seen the mistakes others have made. A lawyer is essential if you are being accused of a crime.
- [COLLECT IT] GATHER ANY EVIDENCE RELATING TO THE INCIDENT. Get any photos, videos and other objects. Gather any documents, records, letters, emails, and financial or legal records. Gather any evidence that could show where you were at the time of the offense such as receipts, cell phone records and computer records. Make a list of evidence you do not have access to. Make a list of witnesses and get their contact information.
- [STOP IT] DO NOT DESTROY EVIDENCE YOU THINK COULD HURT YOU. This could get you charged with further crimes and may make you look even worse.
- [ZIP IT] DO NOT TRY TO TALK TO A VICTIM OR WITNESS TO THE ALLEGED CRIME. Your first thought might be that talking to someone could sort everything out. Don’t do it. This could also lead to you being charged with further crimes or may make your situation worse. Even if you are not threatening or intimidating, others could accuse you of being so, and you could get charged with witness intimidation. Talk to an attorney if you believe talking to a witness could help, but do not take matters into your own hands. Investigators can be hired to talk to witnesses if necessary.
- [STOP IT ] DO NOT GIVE EVIDENCE WILLINGLY OR DO ANY TESTING UNTIL YOU TALK TO A LAWYER.
This includes your cell phone, your DNA or anything. If the police have decided to take these things against your will, have a warrant, or are taking it without a warrant, you cannot stop them. However, you should make it very clear that you do not consent to them taking evidence of any kind. Simply saying “I do not give you my consent to take that” is enough for the police to understand that you are not consenting. If they feel they have the right to take the evidence, they will take it without your consent. If you give consent and then realize you made a mistake, you can withdraw your consent but you must make it clear.
- COOPERATE WITH THE POLICE IF THEY HAVE A WARRANT OR ARE ACTING WITHIN THEIR RIGHTS, BUT DO NOT CONSENT UNTIL YOU TALK TO A LAWYER.
If a police officer is coming into your house or taking your property, let them know politely that you do not consent to what they are doing and you are requesting that they stop immediately. However, do not resist them physically or block their access to something they are trying to take. Many times officers will ask you for things or tell you to give them something. For example, they may say, “I want to search your car. Or, get out of the car so I can search it.” You can say “I do not consent to this and do not voluntarily agree to give this to you. Are you telling me I have to give it to you or I am required to consent to this?”
At the same time, if they tell you to get out of the car, you should comply with what they tell you to do. You can be arrested for resisting and obstructing an officer if you resist them or get in their way MCL 750.81d. They will tell you if they believe they have the right to take it or perform a search. If they do, they will do it, but it should be clear that it is without your consent. If you resist them, this could be considered resisting and obstructing and may get you arrested on more charges. If you are in the middle of a situation like that, and you want to call your attorney, let them know that you want to call your attorney and step aside and call if they will let you get to a phone. An attorney can help guide you through that situation.
The bottom line is that the best possible thing you can do is contact a lawyer if you are accused of a crime. Events unfold quickly and interaction with the police can lead to more charges if you are not very careful. The best possible thing you can do is have an attorney by your side from the very beginning.
Contact the Doak Law Firm today for your FREE 1/2 hour consultation. We serve clients all over the State of Michigan, Including Charlevoix County (Charlevoix, East Jordan, Elmira, Boyne City,), Otsego County (including Gaylord, Johannesburg, Elmira), Kalkaska County, Emmet County (Including Mackinaw City, Alanson, Conway, Petoskey, Walloon Lake) Cheboygan County (including Cheboygan, Indian River).
Doak Law Firm
219 East Main Street suite 1
Boyne City, MI 49712
Phone: (231) 582-0712
Fax: (206) 888-4849
***This web site is for informational purposes only and is intended to give you, the viewer, information about the type of services provided by the Doak Law Firm. This is not intended as nor should this web site be used as legal advice. Your case should be specifically reviewed by an attorney. Contacting the Doak Law Firm via this web site, via e-mail, or via phone does not create an attorney-client relationship. An attorney client relationship can only be created by express written agreement with the Doak Law Firm.***