A common misconception exists when it comes to criminal defense representation, and this applies to the timing of involving an attorney. Many believe they do not need legal counsel until they have been arrested or charged with a crime. Some criminal attorneys even say to wait until you are charged to hire an attorney. Though every case is different, it is highly likely that forgoing legal counsel until you are charged will be detrimental to your case. After all, what if you could avoid an arrest and charges altogether? That seems like a far better option.
You may benefit from involving a criminal defense lawyer the instant you become aware of an investigation against you, of a warrant to search your property or that you have been accused of a crime. Early intervention may help you avoid criminal charges in the first place.
There are steps that an attorney can take to prevent charges from being filed. During this "pre-file intervention" or "pre-file investigation," an attorney can conduct an independent investigation and gather physical evidence, witness testimony and other information that supports your innocence. In presenting this information in a clear and compelling manner, it may be possible to dissuade the prosecuting attorney from filing formal charges.
It is important to remember that anything you do or say while you are under investigation by law enforcement may be misconstrued as evidence of your guilt. You may try to cooperate with the police, allowing them to search your property without a warrant, only to find that they discover evidence they believe proves you committed a crime. You may try to answer their questions honestly and may find yourself facing an arrest warrant. You have legal rights through every stage of a criminal case, even before charges have been filed against you. Protect these rights and you have a far better chance of avoiding an arrest, charges and conviction.
Protection Against Criminal Investigations
The beginning of any criminal case is the report of an alleged crime. Unless a law enforcement officer personally witnesses this act, an investigation must usually take place for the police to obtain a warrant and bring a suspect into custody. Even in the early stages of a criminal case, while law enforcement is working to narrow down the suspect pool and focus on a single individual, a criminal defense lawyer can make a significant impact. It is far too easy for detectives and prosecutors to gather statements, confessions and evidence against you if they deal directly with you.
If you are accused of a crime or discover you are a suspect in any criminal investigation, involve your lawyer. From the point you involve a competent lawyer, law enforcement and the prosecution will deal with this legal professional, who knows what to say and how to address questions, warrants and other issues. Your lawyer will know if your rights are in jeopardy and will have the skill to protect them.
Most prosecutors will only proceed with a criminal case against a defendant if they believe they can win. They need sufficient evidence that they believe will support a guilty verdict or must feel confident that they can get a defendant to accept a plea bargain. If the prosecution is met with strong opposition from the get-go, while they are determining whether a solid case exists, they may be less eager to proceed.
At Lessem & Newstat, we offer pre-file intervention for suspects and arrestees throughout Los Angeles and all of Southern California. If you wish to protect your rights and would like the opportunity to avoid criminal charges altogether, call our offices. We are experienced, aggressive and ready to fight for you.