First, one should know their basic rights. Everyone is familiar in some fashion with the “Miranda Rights, ” which begin with “You have the right to remain silent.” This statement is an extremely important one in that it gives the accused the right to not say anything that would potentially incriminate themselves in the future. More often than not, defendants are convicted not on the actual accused crime itself, but on the criminal procedure that follows thereafter. All sorts of verbose technicalities ensue during a criminal investigation and if one were to slip and say the wrong thing out of context, that statement can and will be taken at face value. This is why remaining silent during an arrest is key.
Once an official criminal charge is imposed, one of the first things a defendant should do is seek proper counsel. This may be a no brainer, but it is important that one chooses an attorney that regularly handles criminal cases. As already mentioned, criminal law and procedure has all sorts of twists and turns and only an experienced criminal defense attorney will adequately be ready for what rocky roads may lie ahead.
After a suitable attorney is chosen, be sure that the lines of communication are very open. Like with most things in life, there can be little productivity without good communication. Often legalese can get quite overwhelming, not to mention the fact that most people, including some lawyers, don’t even understand half the words they are saying. It is important to ask the attorney pin point questions about your case and to reiterate any issues that are not overtly clear. One should avoid simply nodding their head in agreement to whatever the lawyer says, when in reality they have no clue as to what is going on. This approach is understandable since most people when facing a criminal charge are scared, confused and simply want to get things over with as quickly as possible. While understandable, this approach can be quite costly in terms of what charges are implemented on your behalf. Again, keep the lines of commutation between yourself and counsel open so that one does not become a victim of criminal procedure. If you are not happy with the plea offer the prosecution has put on the table, strongly communicate this to your attorney so that he/she can act accordingly. The accused always has a right to trial, so if one believes that justice is not being served, they have that option.
Ultimately when faced with a criminal charge, the key is to take an initial step back and assess your current predicament. As the saying goes, the best offense is a good defense, so take your time in planning a course of action. A good friend of mine once told me that it’s always best to measure twice and cut once. Enough said.