5 signs you need to call a criminal defense attorney.
They say that ignoring the signs is a good way to end up in the wrong place. When it comes to legal matters, that place is jail or prison. It’s crucial to recognize when you can go it alone and when you need to call a criminal defense attorney.
Being charged with any type of crime is scary and confusing and you will have many questions. Was I really at fault? Will I have to go to jail and for how long? Do I need to hire a criminal defense attorney for this? Understanding your rights and what your next steps should be will help you make the best decision.
Do not ignore these signs!
- The police want to bring you to the police station for more questions.
They might say it’s a more controlled environment. Even if they say you are not under arrest, this may still be cause for concern. This is a sign that they are suspicious or that they think you are holding out. Have an attorney go with you just to be sure.
- Simple questioning takes a turn for the worse or the weird.
This could be anything from a change in the nature or subject of the questions to a shift in attitude or tone. Trust your instincts. If things start to feel uncomfortable, call a criminal defense attorney.
- Police appear at your residence or place of employment and want to search.
There are rules and rights that come into play during a police search. What are they looking for? What are they allowed to remove? Do you have to say yes and if you don’t, will that make you look guilty? Contact a criminal defense attorney right away to learn what you should and shouldn’t do.
- You are unsure if you need a criminal defense attorney.
If you are wondering whether the situation calls for a lawyer, it probably does. Better to be safe now than sorry later.
- You are read your rights.
If the police officer begins to tell you your rights, it means you are being arrested and this is the number one reason to hire a criminal defense attorney. In the Miranda rights, it states that you are allowed to call an attorney or have one provided to you. There is good reason for this, so be sure to take advantage.
Crimes for which a criminal defense attorney is absolutely necessary.
Domestic violence – a conviction for domestic violence can have a domino effect, impacting other areas such as the ownership of firearms and immigration status. Your attorney can explain what’s at stake and how to defend yourself.
Disorderly conduct – a wide range of charges may fall into this category, but it’s basically acting erratically in public without causing harm to yourself or others. Anytime you cause an inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, you should expect someone to call the police. Yelling obscenities and getting into a shoving match in a bar could bring this charge. A conviction could lead to jail time, denial of a loan application and years of having to explain your record. Therefore, you need an experienced attorney to handle it.
Harassment – this can include stalking, hate crimes and even cyberbullying. Criminal harassment, unlike workplace harassment, is typically under authority of state laws. It’s definition is to intentionally targeting someone for the purposes of threatening, tormenting or terrorizing. Sometimes, it’s just a misdemeanor and other times, it’s bumped up to a serious felony.
Shoplifting – no one trusts a thief. You may not be able to gain employment, find a roommate or get into college. It’s vital to have this charge handled by a qualified attorney.
DUI – this can have an overwhelming impact on your family and professional life as well as your reputation. Without proper representation, you could face heavy fines, loss of your license and even jail time. Don’t go it alone, hire an attorney.
What should you do when approached by law enforcement?
Stay calm – getting agitated with only serve to aggravate the situation. Understand that in New Jersey, the police have the right to stop and question you. Always keep your hands visible and answer questions honestly and quickly and comply with all requests (such as providing identification).
Don’t be bullied – the 4th and 5th Amendments protect you against unlawful search and seizure and unfair treatment by members of law enforcement. If officers request a search, you can ask to see a warrant. Without a warrant, the most that can happen is a pat down to ensure you don’t have weapons. For anything else, you may refuse.
Follow instructions – if the police officer places you under arrest, allow him to place you in handcuffs and into the vehicle without any resistance. If you don’t they can, by law, use reasonable force to get you to comply.
You are under arrest. Now what happens?
Having a criminal record can affect everything from getting a job to housing applications. The legal process is quite straightforward, but most of us never pay attention to it…until something happens. It’s best to know the procedures and what your rights are, before you need to. This will help you to be prepared if the unthinkable should occur.
You must be legally arrested with charges filed. This tells you what the police officers believe you did wrong. The police either have to have witnessed you committing a crime (such as a DUI) or have an eyewitness say you did it (like in cases of harassment).
After your arrest, you are then go to booking. This involves taking your fingerprints and photo. You will also be able to make a phone call. By this time, the police officer will know when you will likely be set for release and if it’s necessary to arrange bail.
Then, you appear before a judge. In New Jersey, they cannot hold you longer than 24 hours before giving you a hearing in court. If not, you will recieve a warning, a notice to appear later, or let go outright.
Most importantly, ask for an attorney immediately. Don’t sign any documents or answer questions. You have the right to remain silent, so use it.
Get the best criminal defense attorney in Morris County.
Some people think that contacting an attorney is equivalent to an admission of guilt but it’s not. Ultimately it is a smart way to defend yourself and understand your rights. At the Law offices of Marc A. Futterweit, they know how to handle your specific case, properly respond to charges and help you understand your options.