If you are facing a criminal investigation or have already been arrested and charged with a crime, you may be wondering: when should I hire a criminal defense lawyer? Subjects of a criminal investigation may be reluctant to go ahead and hire a criminal defense lawyer as they do not want to waste money if they are not going to be charged when the investigation is complete. However, this way of thinking is flawed.
You wouldn’t wait until you have lung cancer to begin a smoking cessation program, why would you wait until you are already charged with a crime to hire a criminal defense attorney? No matter the damage done by smoking or by your potential criminal conduct, your damages can be mitigated or eliminated by acting now. The ideal time to hire a criminal defense lawyer is even before you are formally charged.
How a Lawyer Can Help Before Charges are Filed
The answer to the question of when you should hire a criminal defense lawyer is as soon as possible. If you know or suspect you are under investigation for a crime, your attorney can take steps at this point to help lessen the impact the investigation or the charges can have on your life.
One of the first steps your attorney will take at this stage is to construct a wall of separation between you and law enforcement officials and detectives. Before even consulting with an attorney, a suspect who speaks to detectives or law enforcement officials can cause significant problems in their defense. By hiring an attorney at the investigation stage, you can avoid taking this often-injurious misstep.
Police are trained in interrogation techniques and are many times pros at getting suspects to make inconsistent statements or show potential deceptive body language – all the while the suspect believes they will benefit or be rewarded for their cooperation. Even if you assert your right to remain silent during an investigation, it will more than likely be seen as a sign of guilt.
Your lack of statements is not admissible as evidence in court, but it could sway a decision of filing charges or not. If you have an attorney and are advised to remain silent, law enforcement generally views this not as an admission of guilt but of standard operating procedure for a suspect with an attorney.
A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Decrease the Severity of Charges Filed
If charges are pending, your criminal defense lawyer can usually negotiate with the district attorney’s office or police detectives about which charges will be filed. Plea negotiations are dependent upon what types of charges are filed, making your lawyer’s influence prior to charges very valuable. If the initial charges are more serious, the defendant may not reach an ideal outcome. Whereas if the charges are not as severe, there is more leeway to in the plea deal and the impact on the defendant’s life. In some cases, an attorney may prevent charges from ever being filed in your case.
Defense Attorneys Can Help with Arrests and Bail
Yet another reason to hire a criminal defense attorney before you are charged and arrested for a crime is that they can assist with your arrest, and you might have your bail set at a lower amount. In some cases, your lawyer could contact the court and arrange a scheduled arrest or an arrest by appointment after a warrant for your arrest has been issued.
You then turn yourself in at the pre-arranged and scheduled time to be arrested, instead of facing the humiliation and inconvenience of a surprise arrest. If you turn yourself, your chances for a lower bail are higher as your actions show you are less of a flight risk to the judge.
The Possible Consequences of Criminal Charges in Tennessee
Criminal charges in Tennessee can mean serious consequences. Not only can these charges ruin your reputation, your career, and your family, they can also come with:
- Months or years of prison or jail time
- Thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in fines and court costs
- Restitution fees
- Community service
- The loss of rights such as the right to vote or bear arms
Call a Criminal Defense Attorney for Help
Even if you do not reach out to a criminal defense attorney prior to being charged with a crime or being arrested, an attorney can still offer legal help and obtain a better outcome in your case. While it is best to hire a lawyer as soon as you know you could be facing legal trouble, a lawyer can improve your situation at nearly any step in the criminal process. The money you spend to retain an attorney is an investment into your future and can be worth it in the long run by helping you eliminate or decrease fines and saving your reputation and job.
If you are wondering: when should I hire a criminal defense lawyer, call the Barnes Law Firm at 865-805-5703 to schedule your consultation today, or you can use our online contact form. We also offer the convenient option of online video consultations.