Do I Need A Lawyer During A Police Investigation? Tips From a Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney
The short answer is almost always, yes. This article will explain the importance of hiring an experienced defense attorney as early on in the investigative process as possible in Virginia. If the police or any other law enforcement agency is looking at you, then you need to be proactive so that you are ready for the charges as soon as they are filed.
Reasons to Have an Attorney During an Investigation.
Invoking Your Rights
Since the police are investigating you, they have a reason to believe that you are implicated or guilty of a crime. Because of this, everything you say, can and will be used against in the prosecution's eventual case-in-chief. A lawyer's most critical role is invoking your rights, which exist even before trial.
These rights include you Sixth Amendment right to counsel, and your right to remain silent. Many people under investigation inadvertently offer the police information, which is sufficient to convict them of a crime while trying to be "cooperative." It can be intimidating to say no to the police, so let your lawyer do it for you. You always have the right to remain silent, and in most instances this is exactly what your lawyer will advise of you.
A good lawyer will be able to look at the police’s conduct during an investigation and anticipate the charges they will bring against you. The police often tip their hat to the eventual charges during an investigation including listing important information in a search warrant affidavit. Anticipating charges is important to allow you and your attorney to start building a defense before any charges are even filed. This way, you won’t be caught off guard when the police issue a warrant for your arrest. You and your attorney will have seen it coming well in advance.
Getting You Immunity
There are times where you are part of a police investigation, but your value to the police is more as a witness. However, this doesn’t mean that you haven’t committed a crime yourself. In fact, the police will often use a crime you have committed as leverage in order to force you to cooperate. A seasoned criminal defense attorney can ensure that the State agrees not to prosecute you if you offer critical information to the investigation. In these situations, what you know is your greatest asset, so do not offer it without specific assurances in place.
It’s All Confidential
Attorney-client privilege ensures that everything said between you and your lawyer is confidential. This enables you to talk to your lawyer freely about the situation without any fear of incriminating yourself. Furthermore, your lawyer can give you an objective perspective to help you understand the investigation. Lawyers do this by looking at your case, giving you the possible options to proceed and helping you make the best decision to ensure you are not unfairly charged with a crime. Your lawyer’s familiarity with the law and court procedures will additionally help with preventing self-incrimination.
When Should I Contact A Lawyer?
You should contact a lawyer as early as possible to ensure that you do not incriminate yourself at any point during the investigation. By contacting a lawyer early, you can avoid any potential mistakes and gain more understanding of the circumstances of the investigation. A good lawyer’s action during an investigation can even prevent the police from gathering sufficient evidence to ever file the charges.
Does Contacting a Lawyer Imply That I’m Guilty?
No, your Sixth Amendment right to counsel in a fundamental right. Therefore, hiring or receiving legal advice is your right when you talk to the police. Contacting a lawyer does not imply that you are guilty in any fashion and can never be used against you. Rather, it is an educated decision based on the idea that you do not want something you accidentally say to be used against you. Considering the potential consequences of being convicted for a crime, whether it be large or small, you always want counsel on the best course of action in every stage of the proceeding.
How We Can Help
The Picket Law Group, PLLC, is a law firm based in Northern Virginia and is experienced in criminal defense. Our experience in criminal misdemeanors and felony charges allows us to effectively take on these cases. We encourage clients to hire us as early in the investigative process as possible so we can utilize our expertise at the earliest stages of a criminal proceeding. Contact us today and we will start fighting on your behalf.