As a New York criminal defense attorney in Westchester County I am always asked questions about the best way individuals can protect themselves against a police investigation and a criminal charge. Below are my top five:
1. Never talk to the police - During a criminal investigation police officers or law enforcement will try to interview a suspect, unusually not to get information but to build a case against the suspect. Many suspects believe that they can talk their way out of a charge but that is not the case. Police officers can lie to a suspect during an investigation. Police usually make comments such as "we already know the truth we just want to hear it from you" or "work with me and I'll release you right now" or "I'll put in a good word with the judge or DA if you just cooperate" or "your friends already told us everything and they are blaming you, tell us what you know". These are all traps to strengthen the government's case and lead to your arrest.
The only thing you should tell the police is "I want a lawyer". Repeat it several times if necessary.
Miranda rights only apply in a specific circumstances. For example in a DWI case if you tell an officer on the side of a road you had been drinking and consent to a field sobriety tests this will be used against you and your Miranda rights were not violated.
Never consent to the police searching you, your car or your house – "Consent" searches are valuable tools police officers used to obtain evidence. Your consent waives the warrant requirement and helps law enforcement build their case against you.
2. Hire the right lawyer – As soon as possible hire a top criminal defense lawyer. The best criminal defense lawyers are experienced, know the law and aggressively protect your rights. Lawyers can file motions, conduct discovery (investigate the facts of your case) and research your specific legal issue to make every effort to have a criminal charge reduced or dismissed.
3. Negotiate with the District Attorney or US Attorney's Office – Your attorney's negotiations is one of the best ways to determine the strength of the government's case. Your attorney should always keep you informed about the status of negotiations and your options for proceeding.
4. Hire an investigator or expert – In some criminal actions a criminal defense investigator or expert can provide information or opinions that are essential to the defense. Experts usually include, DWI experts, psychological experts, sex offender experts, accident reconstruction experts, ballistic experts and accounting experts. Investigators can interview witnesses, obtain background information on witnesses, find key witnesses and photograph crime scenes.
5. Consider a jury trial – Every accused has a right to a jury trial. Your criminal defense lawyer can advise if a jury trial is appropriate and the likelihood of success after a jury trial.
Bonus Tip - Forget everything you have seen on TV or in the movies – Television and movies about crimes, lawyers and the courts are not accurate. Nothing gets resolved in an hour or two and you should not compare your experiences to those on television.
Bonus Tip - Understand that not every case is the same - In the law each case has a very specific set of facts and circumstances. Not every case is the same. While in general it is acceptable to compare cases the top criminal defense lawyers will also focus on your case to obtain the best result.
Bonus Tip - Do not take the advice of anyone who is not totally familiar with your case – "Monday Morning" lawyering or advice will only fill you with doubt and confusion. In order to give you good advice a person must know everything about your case.
If you or a loved one is under investigation for a crime, has been taken into custody, arrested or has a criminal charge pending in Court contact the law firm of Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP for a free criminal defense consultation. Our attorneys have decades of criminal defense experience. Call us today (914) 946-4808.