Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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Facing Criminal Charges? Here’s What You Need to Know


What to Do if You're Facing Criminal Charges 

Nobody ever wants to find themselves in a scenario where they're facing criminal charges. However, if you're currently in this situation, you have to get focused. There's no time to sit back and hope that things play out the way you think they should. You have to move with a sense of urgency.

Suggestions for Navigating Criminal Charges

It's important that you follow some very specific steps as you navigate your criminal charges and build up a strong defense. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Retain Your Right to Remain Silent

When you're charged with a crime and a police officer takes you into custody for questioning (whether that's temporarily placing you in cuffs and putting you in the back of his car or actually taking you into the jail to be processed as an inmate), that officer must read you your Miranda Warning. They read:

"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?"

Notice those first two sentences. You have the right to remain silent. And anything you say can and will be used against you. In other words, the officer is actively trying to build a case against you. By speaking, you may inadvertently say something that can later be used by the prosecutor. It's best to invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent until you have an attorney present.

  1. Don't Consent to Anything

It's equally important that you don't consent to anything. Depending on the nature of the crime, law enforcement may wish to search your car, home, or even you and your belongings.

But here's the deal: The U.S. Constitution specifically limits an officer's ability to search your person or personal property without meeting very specific conditions. However, if you give an officer consent, then it gives them a legal "green light" to do so.

"One of the biggest mistakes I've seen my clients make is allowing the police to search their home or car without a warrant in the hopes that they'll appear more innocent," attorney Rowdy G. Williams says. "But it doesn't always work out this way. When a police officer wants to find something, they often do. It's usually better to appear suspicious by refusing a search than to consent and then give the police something to build a case with."

This can feel difficult to do in the moment, but it's a necessary precaution. Use every right afforded to you by the law and then wait for your legal counsel to show you the way forward.

  1. Hire an Attorney

Once you've invoked your rights to remain silent and deny a search, you should shift your attention to hiring an attorney. You want a criminal defense attorney who is local, experienced, and has a track record of successfully defending cases like yours.

Ideally, your attorney should be a good negotiator who can get your charges dropped or significantly reduced without going to court. However, it's always nice to know that your attorney has a strong courtroom presence and the ability to persuade judges and juries.

  1. Never Participate in Case-Related Conversations

You should continue to invoke your right to remain silent throughout the remainder of your case. Don't talk about your case with anyone. This includes law enforcement, coworkers, neighbors, or even family. All case-related conversations should happen with your legal team and nobody else.

Be Proactive With Your Response

There's often a tendency to sit back and assume that the truth will be revealed and the charges will be dropped. After all, if the court system is based on the notion of "innocent until proven guilty" and you know you're innocent, there should be nothing to worry about – right? Wrong.

The reality is that innocent people are often convicted of crimes they didn't do. And in many cases, it's because they didn't act swiftly enough. The best thing you can do is be quiet, hire an attorney, and only speak to your attorney from that point forward.

If you follow this simple formula, you'll give yourself a much greater chance of having your charges dropped, reduced, or overturned. 

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