This is a good question. I get asked it all the time if people are calling in, they're under investigation, the police are looking at them and trying to figure out if they're involved in a crime. Hiring an attorney right from the beginning when you find out that there's a potential criminal case is crucial in my opinion because the police are trying to put all the pieces of the puzzle together in the beginning.
So, when they do that they're using going to come and try to talk to you at some point. You're going to want your criminal defense attorney there who is a buffer and you're going to want to be able to say to them, I have an attorney. My attorney has advised me not to make any statements. Here's his business card. Here's his name. Here's his phone number. You can deal with my attorney and I'm not going to say anything.
Avoid Making Incriminating Statements to Police
Because I would say better than nine times out of ten if you talk to the police, you're going to end up saying or doing something that incriminates you. When the police come to talk to you and they're investigating a criminal case, unfortunately everything is one-sided at that point.
In other words, they usually have a theory about what's happened and it's that you've committed some sort of a crime and they're trying to get you to give them some evidence so when they give the case to the prosecutors, they can have a piece of evidence from you that incriminates you. I can't tell you how many times people think they're going to talk their way out of something and they end up saying something that incriminates them.
Another problem that I see is that maybe people don't say something that incriminates them the police don't tape record it and so then they twist what the person says and try to make it sound like they said something incriminating and how are you supposed to un-ring that bell?
Just say, well no, I didn't say that, but the police said, yes he did say that. So, that puts you in a bad position. Just don't say anything. If you don't say anything then at least you have a good chance they're not going to lie about the fact that you said something and they're not going to be able to use anything against you.
When you want to say something is when you are being guided by your attorney under the right circumstances. So, hiring an attorney from the beginning for that reason alone is critical. Also, there may be some issues that crop up during the investigative phase that you need advice on.
Attorney Guidance Through The Criminal Process
You're going to want to have your attorney there by your side advising you and guiding you as to exactly how to handle a particular situation that relates to your case, and how are you going to do that if the attorney doesn't know anything about your situation and your in a panic trying to get to an attorney, trying to educate them on your case, when you could have just — once you found out about it — hired an attorney, given him all the information and let them guide you through it.
Yes, at the pre-filing stage sometimes you just have to sit there and wait, but you're waiting with an attorney who knows your case and when something does come up — when the police do come to get you — when the prosecutors do want to talk to somebody who knows something about your case — your attorney is there.
They know the case. They know the ins and outs of it. They know what is good for you. They know what is bad for you and they're going to be able to guide you through it.
You get one chance to defend yourself right in a criminal case. If you blow it — for example, let's say someone calls you who's related to the case — maybe the alleged victim in the case, and the police tape recorded it which they're allowed to do — it's called a pretext phone call — and you take that call and you start talking to them and answering their questions and apologizing or whatever you do, now they're going to try to use that against you in the criminal case. Why would you do that?
Instead, your attorney is going to tell you, if anybody calls you, tell them you can't make any statements. Your attorney said not to make any statements. Blame it on your attorney. The attorney will take responsibility for that.
So, hiring a criminal defense attorney pre-filing when you know you're under investigation or you suspect you may soon be investigated, in my opinion, is critical if you want to make sure that you don't do or say anything that incriminates you and you want to have that attorney there.
Part of it also is peace of mind — knowing you have an attorney by your side who knows your situation, who is going to help guide you through it, because once again, you get one chance to do it right.
Prefiling Intervention To Avoid Criminal Charges
You want to make sure that you defend yourself the right way and that you end up with the best possible result and the only way you're going to do that is having an attorney right from the gate. A lot of times you don't even know that you're being investigated so you don't get the opportunity to hire an attorney pre-filing.
If you suspect that you're going to be investigated you should get to an attorney. Sit down with them. Retain them. Tell them everything about your case and then let them figure out what the next move is and sometimes — which is not easy for people — the next move is to sit and wait and don't do anything and there's nothing wrong with that in certain circumstances because by doing something in some of these scenarios, you just end up making matters worse.
So, if you've got a criminal case in Los Angeles county pre-filing, pick up the phone. Make the call now and we can get your matter moving in the right direction and make sure that nothing is done that makes things any worse for you.