Do You Need a Lawyer before You're Charged?

Attorney in front of law books

One the biggest, and most common, mistakes that a suspect makes in a criminal case is actually made before they officially become a defendant. People frequently wait to consult a defense attorney until after they have been arrested and charged with a crime. In some cases there truly was no forewarning, making it impossible to consult with an attorney before being charged. Often, however, a defendant is questioned or targeted long before the police actually make an arrest. If you have any reason to believe that you are the target of a criminal investigation, you absolutely need a lawyer before you are charged for several reasons. Do not wait, be proactive and hire a seasoned lawyer as soon as possible to review what is going on. Do not sit back and wait until it is too late; start gathering helpful evidence and preparing a defense theme and strategy.

Often, certain types of crimes, such as shoplifting or petty theft, DWI/DUI, driving infractions, possession of a small amount of a controlled substance or marijuana, or prostitution, are committed in the presence of a police officer or committed moments before the police arrive on the scene. Therefore, an arrest is made almost immediately after the alleged crime is committed. More serious crimes, however, such as murder, rape, robbery, burglary, or drug sale, possession or trafficking, are usually only solved after a lengthy investigation by law enforcement. This typically means that if you are a suspect you will have reason to know you are a suspect at some point along the way. You usually find out because the police contact you directly or contact family members, friends, or co-workers asking about questions about you and/or your activities and/or whereabouts. At this point, you should be very concerned and should immediately consult with an attorney.

People commonly make the mistake of thinking that they can wait and can "explain" things to the police. They think that they have nothing to hide so it can't hurt to talk to the police. Not only can it hurt to talk to the police without an attorney but is all too often does hurt to do so. Whether you are guilty of the crime or innocent doesn't matter at this point. Something you say could be misinterpreted, misconstrued, or misunderstood by the officer and could result in you becoming the prime suspect in the crime. If you let the police into your home, you could be giving consent to search all, or part, of your home. That search could also turn up incriminating evidence related or unrelated to the actual crime they are investigating.

Make no mistake about it, if the police want to "talk to you" it is more often than not because they consider you a suspect and plan to arrest you. At the very least, they believe you know something about the crime which could make you an accessory to the crime or material witness. You have an absolute right to consult with an attorney prior to speaking with the police. Exercising that right doesn't make you appear guilty, it makes you appear smart. Protect your rights and use them.

If you have reason to believe you are the target of a criminal investigation, contact an experienced New York criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Please check our representative case page and testimonials & referrals page to see specific information regarding past cases and what our clients and other attorneys have to say about our legal services. Please feel free to contact The Law Offices of Adam Thompson, P.C. for more information about our experience in any sex crimes charges anytime at (212)267-2424.