If you are about to be contacted by law enforcement or you are the subject of an investigation, the most important thing to remember is that you have a right to remain silent. If you are being investigated, law enforcement will use any trick they can to obtain evidence against you. Do not make their job easier. I rarely see someone get rewarded with leniency or a dismissal because they were candid with Police. Remember to always be respectful (if you are not they will use this against you as well) and politely but firmly indicate your desire to remain silent and to contact an attorney (we answer our phones 24/7).
Do not agree to a search. Make law enforcement obtain a warrant. I cannot think of any circumstance where I would voluntarily allow a Police Officer to search me, my home or my car. FYI, there is a reason why your vehicle has a locking glove box! Use it!
Many people will cooperate with law enforcement because they feel they will get leniency or because they are afraid of being arrested and they mistakenly believe a police officer is more likely to let them go if they comply with all of the requests made to them. This is usually not true and when it is, you are trading not being arrested for a conviction down the road. Keep your thoughts focused on the long run; the prosecutor’s ability to convict you, and not the short run; whether or not you will be arrested.
Never be resistive, combative or even impolite. Never turn a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor (like DUI or Driving While License Suspended) into a felony (like Attempt to Elude or Assault 3rd Degree). Always have the phone number of an attorney, who is available 24/7, in your wallet and your phone. You never know when you may need an attorney and when you do need one, it is too late to spend the time finding one.
Every criminal charge is winnable and every one is losable. It all depends on how you deal with the investigation and how you prepare to fight the prosecution. In all candor, you sometimes also need a bit of luck. However, luck seems to come more often to those who are smart and prepared.
There are times when people get calls from Police Officers asking them to answer some questions or to turn themselves in. If you have received such a call, do not answer any questions or go to the police station without calling an attorney first and asking for advice. You may want that attorney to go with you to the police station. Our attorneys have done this many times for many clients. It has always improved our client’s situation and their odds of a more favorable outcome.
If you have been investigated, you may or may not have been arrested. If arrested, you may have been released with 72 hours without charges being filed. If you have been investigated and/or arrested and no charges have yet to be filed, do not let yourself assume your ordeal is over and that charges will never be filed. Many counties (especially King County) take months to file charges. A delay (even a lengthy one) may be more indicative in a over-worked, under-staffed Prosecutor’s office then a decision not to file charges against you. Accordingly, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney right away. Sometimes an attorney can take steps to preserve evidence you may need when the time comes to defend yourself. Videos are often destroyed after a month or two. Witnesses move or forget. Time can erase many of the things your attorney will need to successfully defend you. Just because criminal charges have not been filed right away does not mean they cannot file them in the future.
We offer a free consultation. Use that consultation to get a free evaluation of what you should do right now. Afterwards, you may decide to act now and hire us or you may decide to wait. A meeting with us will make sure you are basing your decision on a solid analysis of the law and the facts and not on fear or a desire to forget the experience ever happened.
Disclaimer: The above information is meant as a general recitation of a typical situation for people facing criminal charges. It is not intended to be legal advice. Legal advice can only be given by Padula & Associates when we have had a chance to talk with you, and to research your specific situation. Please call us for a specific analysis of your case and not generalizations that may or may not be accurate for you.