If you have been arrested or accused of a crime, your chances of success depend not only on the skills of your criminal defense lawyer but also on your lawyer’s ability to navigate the criminal justice system effectively.
Police Investigation – Should I Talk To The Police?
It is usually best to make no statement and sign nothing!
If the police are investigating you, you may or may not be aware of it. At some point, they may ask you to come into the station and give a statement. You may believe this is your chance to tell your side of the story. Understand that this is a very dangerous time for anyone charged or under investigation for a serious offense.
Instead of talking to the police, consult with a criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer can intercede on your behalf and talk to the detectives. This is a great way to get valuable information and may result in charges not being filed. Most importantly, doing so will keep you from giving a statement that might ultimately be used against you. Any statement you make will undoubtedly be used by the District Attorney at trial. Even statements made by you that you believe to be innocent can be damaging. For example, the police may not know whether you were even in the area of an alleged crime. If you make a statement to the police saying that you were there but had nothing to do with it, the District Attorney no longer needs to prove your presence at the scene of the crime. You have done that for them.
Can I Be Arrested Without Evidence?
The police can arrest you only if they have probable cause to believe you have committed the crime. Once they have probable cause, they can arrest you in a number of ways:
If they believe you are not a flight risk, they may submit your case to the prosecutor’s office who in turn will send you a letter in the mail asking you to appear for an arraignment; or
They may ask you to voluntarily surrender yourself at the police station. Under the second and third scenario, your best bet is to hire a criminal defense attorney immediately.
Release Alternatives – Release On Own Recognizance – Bail
In some criminal matters, usually not involving violent crimes, your attorney will ask the court that you be released without bail and on your own recognizance (O.R.). The court must be convinced the accused is not a flight risk and will show up for all future court appearances. In addition, the court will usually require that the accused have roots within the community and no prior felony record. In many jurisdictions, the court will request an “O.R.” report from the probation department along with their recommendation.
A criminal defense attorney can help you arrange the voluntary surrender and even make arrangements to have a bail bondsman present so that you will not have to go into custody at all. This is called a book and release. In addition, your lawyer may be able to get you extra time before having to surrender. If you receive a notice from the prosecutor’s office, it is recommended that you retain a criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. Your first appearance before the court will be your arraignment in which you will normally enter a plea of not guilty.