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April 7, 2017
Top 10 Tips When You’re Facing a Criminal Allegation
Written by Mike Howard
Hire the best criminal defense lawyer possible. With your life, liberty, and livelihood on the line, now isn’t the time to try to find a bargain. See this short video for tips on how to find the right lawyer.
Hire your criminal defense lawyer as early as possible. Don’t wait until you have a court date or even later. The moment you learn of an allegation against you, you should be calling your lawyer.
If money is tight, focus on securing the best legal defense possible, then focus on bonding out of jail. This is a tough one because it means you or your loved one sitting in jail longer than you’d like so you can put your financial resources towards hiring the right lawyer for you. But think of the alternative: if you sink your money into bond, yes you’re out of jail, but now you can’t afford a the legal defense that’s going to fight for your longterm freedom.
Keep your mouth shut. This should be a no-brainer but people make this mistake all the time. You know you have a right to remain silent – use it! Don’t talk about the allegation with anyone who isn’t your lawyer. To be safest, don’t even discuss the allegation with people close to you (significant other, family, close friends) as you never know when you could have a falling out.
Document any important evidence. If you were injured, take pictures or a video. Ideally have someone trustworthy (no criminal record, would come across well if they had to testify in court) take the pictures or video. If there’s a voicemail, text messages, letters, notes that are important, keep them!
Keep a file of all important documents. Anything related to the allegation or the criminal case should go into a file to give to your lawyer. Letters you get from the court, the business card of the detective who wants to talk to you, text messages on your phone that prove your innocence (screenshot, print out, and put in the file), phone records, witness names and contact info, et cetera. As your lawyer you help me help you when you arm me with the information I need to fight for you.
Immediately write down the facts and potential witnesses. While your memory is still fresh, write down (or type out) what happened. Go in chronological order from the beginning to the end (don’t jump around in time when telling the story). Include potential witnesses’ names and contact info. When you’re finished read it to make sure it’s clear and make any necessary edits. You want clear and straight forward. Don’t try to argue or convince your lawyer of your point; just stick to the facts.
Keep your fact statement (see #5) in a safe place. Ideally you give your fact statement directly to your lawyer. Don’t leave it laying around for someone to find. Your statement is only protected once it’s in your lawyer’s hands. If other people see it, copy it, etc, it’s not confidential. If you’re using a computer, use encrypted email to send it to your lawyer to keep it protected.
Be mindful of your social media accounts. What you say on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc as well as what photos and videos you post on sites like Instagram can and will come back to haunt you. Look carefully at your social media accounts. Is there anything on there about the allegation? Is there anything that could make you look bad? References to/pictures of drugs, alcohol, partying, guns, sexually oriented material can paint you in a bad light. Consider taking a break from social media and deleting your accounts.
Tell your lawyer the truth. This should go without saying, but if you lie to your lawyer, it only hurts you. Sometimes people are embarrassed or think their lawyer needs a good story… Your lawyer needs the truth. Good or bad, the truth allows your lawyer to build the best defense for you (know where the potholes are and how to avoid them).