The criminal justice system is complex. If you’re involved in a criminal matter, you might recognize that you need a criminal defense lawyer to help you through the process. An attorney takes on various tasks to protect your rights and freedoms and challenge the allegations against you.
But when should you retain legal representation? During the investigation stage? After your arrest? Once formal charges have been filed against you?
In short, you should hire a lawyer as soon as possible in your case. When exactly that will be depends on your situation.
Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney at the Investigation Stage
Some criminal matters involve a lengthy investigation. Law enforcement officials gather evidence to build a case against the accused at this stage. This fact-finding process consists of collecting physical objects, such as alleged weapons or video footage, and talking to witnesses and the suspect.
You might know that you are being investigated for a crime when law enforcement officials contact you for questioning, search your home, or seize your property. Although you are not under arrest at this point or have not even been charged with a crime, it is a good idea to retain the services of a defense lawyer.
During the investigation, your attorney can advise you on what to say and do. They can also review everything investigators are doing to prevent violations of your rights. Your attorney may also conduct their own investigation, gathering evidence to refute allegations against you and keeping you from getting arrested or charged through pre-file intervention.
Hiring a Defense Lawyer After You Have Been Arrested
Not all arrests are preceded by a monthslong investigation. In some cases, a police officer might have probable cause to believe a person has committed a crime and arrest the individual.
Immediately after your arrest, the police officer will submit their report to the District Attorney’s Office, where a prosecutor decides whether to bring official charges against you. If you hire an attorney at this stage, they could review the details about the alleged crime and negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce or dismiss charges.
Your attorney can also be present when law enforcement officials are interrogating you. They can advise you of your right to remain silent and prevent you from saying anything that authorities might use to build a case against you.
Hiring an Attorney After Charges Have Been Filed
You might have refrained from hiring a lawyer after your arrest because you didn’t believe enough evidence existed to pursue a case against you. Unfortunately, the prosecutor might have seen it otherwise and brought official charges.
You may still hire a defense attorney at this point. They can examine the evidence against you and build a case to challenge the accusations.
The Advantages of Hiring an Attorney Early On
Retaining legal representation as soon as possible in your case is beneficial for several reasons. Your lawyer can step in immediately to protect your rights. Often, those accused of crimes are unaware of the protections afforded them. They might not always recognize when a violation has occurred and when they can seek remedy.
An attorney can address rights violations and take action, such as filing a motion to suppress, to prevent misconduct from adversely affecting the case outcome.
Having an attorney assisting with your case early on can also help as they build your defense. Crafting a thoughtful and compelling legal strategy takes time and effort.
Your lawyer must:
- Examine and analyze the prosecutor’s evidence,
- Conduct their own investigation,
- Speak with witnesses,
- Review police procedures, and
- Apply appropriate laws and court decisions.
The sooner you hire an attorney, the more time they will have to do what is necessary to defend you. Additionally, if they notice any legal errors or weaknesses in the evidence at the investigation or arrest stages, they could negotiate to prevent the arrest or have charges dropped or reduced. This means that you could avoid having a mark on your criminal record or face less serious penalties.
Schedule a Consultation Today
At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, we are ready to jump into action to defend our Los Angeles clients against criminal charges. Our team expends the time, energy, and resources to seek just results.
To speak with one of our lawyers, please call us at (800) 462-7160 or contact us online today.