We’re taught from a young age, thanks to cartoons and most action movies, that the good guys always win, and the bad guys don’t. The typical American sense of justice derived from that modern-day lore convinces us the court system, too, will swiftly find the truth and exonerate the innocent and punish the guilty. And, simplistically, we learn to believe there will never be an instance where those lines are blurred.
But the reality is, almost none of that is true all the time. Sometimes, even good people find themselves in a situation needing legal assistance, and whether guilty or not, they need help knowing what to do and how to proceed finding the right legal defense.
Here are a few guidelines to follow should such a circumstance arise.
Don't say anything
“Anything you say can and will be used against you” is not just an easily repeatable phrase. It’s a serious matter. If the police show up at your door asking you questions, don't panic. Remain calm, and don’t answer questions. Instead, call an attorney with a proven track record and to help.
Don’t enter any plea agreement without an attorney
When facing the alternative, pleading guilty to a less serious charge in exchange for lesser consequences can be tempting to an innocent defendant. The result, however, will still be a criminal record with possible incarceration, fines, probation, restitution, and sex offender registration, among others. Trust your legal counsel to give the best advice when deciding whether to enter a plea or not.
Hiring an attorney is not proof of guilt
This is not the time to worry about negative perceptions. Opinions don’t equal guilt, but a poor defense strategy will lead to a less than desirable outcome. Especially if you’ve been falsely accused, you need effective representation to help navigate the criminal justice system rules, prejudices, and language. There’s no way to do that on your own.
Get the best representation you can afford
When faced with an unexpected and substantial financial commitment, people often will avoid committing the necessary resources to secure their future. You get what you pay for, so do whatever it takes to secure experienced, knowledgeable and aggressive legal representation.
Trust your attorney
In moments of stress and panic, it may be difficult to trust someone else with decisions about your future. But that’s why hiring the most trustworthy attorney you can is necessary for a successful defense. They have the experience and knowledge to navigate the system, and while their suggestions may go against your thinking, that’s why you hired an expert. Don’t let your fears trump reason.
In summation, being accused of a crime can be a life-altering occurrence, regardless of guilt. Don’t let your inexperience with the legal system work against you. Instead, let trusted experts do the work they’re trained to do.