Hiring a criminal defense lawyer is something most people only picture happening if they've been charged with a crime. Given the way the system of criminal justice works in the U.S., it may be too late to be effective if you wait until you've been formally arraigned to get counsel. Even in many situations where you're not suspected of an offense, it's wise to have an attorney present. Let's consider three circumstances where it's wise to ask for a lawyer.
The Police Want to Talk with You
Most people feel like it's no big deal to talk with the cops when they need to ask questions. But generally, it's unwise to have any conversations with the police without counsel. Even if the cops insist that it's a nothing situation that can be addressed quickly, they can wait for a criminal defense lawyer to show up before they start asking questions. If they're not interested in having a conversation with counsel there, then you should be suspicious of their motives, invoke your right to remain silent and insist upon waiting for your attorney to come.
Being a Witness
It's easy to assume that the police pointing the finger at someone else means you have no exposure under criminal defense law. This is wrong for two somewhat different reasons.
First, there is a real risk that a witness might be accused of wrongdoing. The police may do this because they feel there's evidence the witness was actually a participant. The accused may do this to try to cast doubt upon the state's case.
Second, pressuring witnesses is considered a legitimate tactic used by cops and prosecutors. You may not have been involved in any criminal conduct, but the prosecution might interpret your failure to square their story as obstruction of justice. The threat of an obstruction charge is one method used to nudge witnesses into greater cooperation.
Serious Allegations Floating Around
Waiting for a legal case to come to you isn't always the best plan. While you don't want to engage with rumors, it's still not a bad idea to hire a criminal defense lawyer if you believe allegations have a chance of getting out of hand. An attorney can tell you how to respond to allegations in order to not add fuel to them. Counsel can also be used as a shield if you're being asked questions, as you can refer inquiries to your lawyer.
Contact a provider of criminal defense law in your area to learn more today.