Criminal charges must be taken seriously. As soon as you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offense, your first phone call should be to a skilled criminal defense attorney. However, there are often times when a person has reason to believe that they will be charged with a crime in the near future. While it can be tempting to wait and see if prosecutors will press charges for a crime before seeking assistance from an attorney, what you will find is that it is almost always in your best interest to speak to an attorney before charges are filed.
Why would you speak to an attorney before charges are filed?
Just because a person has yet to be charged with a crime does not mean that they will not face any charges. In many cases, extensive law enforcement investigations take place before prosecutors hand charges down. During this preliminary investigation time frame, a person who thinks that they will be charged with a crime has various reasons to seek assistance from an attorney. Some of those reasons include:
1. Your attorney can influence the prosecutor’s discretion before charges are filed
During any pre-filing investigation, the prosecutor may decide to file serious charges against you based on the police’s early investigation. Without a skilled defense attorney to monitor the prosecutor, it is very likely that the prosecutor will aggressively file charges that do not fit the actual crime.
2. Your attorney can speak to law enforcement officials on your behalf
If you are under investigation for a crime, it is likely that the police will try to speak to you regarding the case, even before charges are filed. This may seem casual, and they may tell you that you are not in any trouble, but they were trying to get you to say something they can use against you in court. An attorney can handle all of these conversations on your behalf.
3. Your attorney will continually monitor the status of the case
Investigations into these cases can take a long time. This could mean weeks, months, or even more than a year. A criminal defense attorney will continuously monitor the status of the investigation against you and stay in constant contact with you, the prosecutors, and law enforcement officials.
4. Your attorney can explain any charges you may be facing
If you are under investigation for a crime, a criminal defense attorney will be able to explain to you what the crime means and any possible charge you could face. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be familiar with the court system in your area and will understand various factors that could affect your case in court (i.e. the leniency of the judges, prosecutors, etc.). Your attorney will also answer any questions you have about your case.
5. Your attorney can begin building a strong case on your behalf
Importantly, the earlier a criminal defense attorney can get to work on your case, the more time they have to prepare a solid defense on your behalf. It is never helpful when a criminal defense attorney is playing “catch up” after prosecutors have had months to prepare the charges against you.
6. Your attorney’s investigation could lead to charges being reduced or dismissed
When a criminal defense attorney gets involved before charges have been filed, they will also be doing their own investigation into the charges against you. Your attorney may discover evidence related to the case that works in your favor, show this evidence to the prosecution, and convince them not to file charges based on the evidence.