Lake City Criminal Charges
What to do if you have been charged with a crime
The criminal defense attorneys at the Lake City law firm of Robinson, Kennon & Kendron, P.A. know that a criminal charge for a drug offense, theft, DUI or other criminal offense can bring with it any number of repercussions. Beyond fines and the possibility of incarceration, a criminal charge can make it difficult to keep or obtain employment, student loans, a mortgage, or a driver’s license. So, what do you do if you have been charged with a crime? What steps should you take to protect your rights?
First and foremost, say nothing to the police or the prosecutor
When you hear somebody talk about “pleading the Fifth,” they are talking about the Fifth Amendment. When the founding fathers drafted the U.S. Constitution, they specifically outlined one of these most important of all rights:
“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime…nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
If you are being questioned by police, it is important to have your attorney present with you. In everyday life, we encounter our friendly law enforcement officers who are honest, hardworking professionals. However, while interactions with police can seem casual and friendly, it is important to remember that the police have a job to do. Police are specifically trained on how to get incriminating information without a formal arrest, just by having what may seem to be a casual conversation. A few misinterpreted words can turn you from citizen into suspect, and from suspect into inmate. An experienced attorney can tell when it is a good idea to speak to the police about a delicate situation. If the police wish to speak with you, consult with your attorney before you agree to an interview.
If you have been arrested, speaking to the police or anyone else about the situation is not a good idea. The Miranda warnings contain the phrase:
“Anything you say can and will be held against you.”
The police do not say “Anything you say can be and will be held against you, or it might help you,” because the vast majority of the time, once you are arrested, you will not be “un-arrested.” The government is building its case and everything that you tell them will be used against you in your case, no matter how innocent or helpful you think it is. Not only is it your right not to say anything that may be used against you, it is in your best interest. When the officer asks “With these [your Miranda] rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me now?” the best answer is almost always a simple one – “No.” Then, directly and unequivocally ask to speak to an attorney.
Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately
Your lawyer is your advocate and the person who is there to protect your rights. When choosing an attorney, it is a good rule of thumb to find someone with experience in mounting a defense against the type of charge you are facing. Find several law firms in the Lake City area, and review their criminal defense attorneys’ credentials. While you are in need of getting legal help as soon as possible, it is worth your while to take some time to look into the lawyer’s background and experience — your freedom may depend on it.
Once you have found an attorney, be open and honest
Your attorney cannot develop the best possible defense if he or she does not have all the information needed. The best defense is one based on the truth, but also shows your side of the story in the best possible light. The skilled, veteran criminal defense attorneys at Robinson, Kennon & Kendron, P.A. know how to make the truth work to your advantage.