What to do if you have been charged with a crime.
At the Lake City and Gainesville law firm of Koberlein Law Offices ("KLO") we know that a criminal charge for a drug offense, theft, DUI or other criminal traffic offense can bring with it any number of negative consequences. 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, Say Nothing to the Police or Prosecutor
When you hear somebody talk about “pleading the Fifth,” they are talking about the Fifth Amendment. The U.S. Constitution provides that:
“No person … 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.”
It is in your best interest to remain silent and it is YOUR RIGHT to remain silent.
Second, Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Immediately
Your attorney 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 and Gainesville 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.
Ask yourself and others:
- What is the experience level of the attorney?
- Is the attorney respected by the prosecution?
- Is the attorney respected by the Court or Judge?
- How many times has the attorney handled cases involving the same kinds of charges?
Next, Once you've 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. At KLO we know how to make the truth work to your advantage. We know how to gain the trust and sympathy of both judge and jury, and how to explain the events in a way that helps your case.