Facing criminal charges is an extremely terrifying situation, especially if it’s your first encounter with the criminal justice system. You are likely worried about the outcome, especially if you didn’t do what you’re being accused of, and wondering how you should proceed.
We’re here to help. Here are three things you should do if you are facing charges.
1. Remain Silent
If you are arrested and care facing a criminal charge, police are going to ask you questions. You might be tempted to answer them, but you shouldn’t. Even if you are innocent, retain your right to remain silent.
Many people think that if they remain silent, they’re in some way admitting their guilt. This is not the case. Recall the Miranda warnings, which police should have given you before the started asking questions: You have the right to remain silent.
This right is given in the 5th Amendment and you should absolutely maintain your right not to incriminate yourself.
2. Consult an Attorney
Another part of the Miranda warnings is “you have the right to an attorney.” You should also maintain your right to refuse to answer any questions and ask for an attorney. If police are questioning you and you ask for an attorney, they must stop their questioning and comply with your request.
Again, even if you are innocent, don’t answer questions without consulting with a criminal defense attorney. If you can’t afford an attorney, the courts must provide one to you. This is also a right given in the Miranda warnings.
An attorney will advise you on how to navigate the court process, give you information on the possible outcomes of your case, negotiate a plea bargain for you, and represent you if you decide to take your case to trial. While you do have the right to represent yourself, it’s not advised, especially if you have no legal training or expertise.
3. Don’t Ignore It
One of the worst things you can do is to ignore your charges and hope they go away. They won’t. If you get information about court dates, you must show up. If you don’t, it’s likely that a judge will issue a warrant for your arrest.
Police might not find you right away, but that warrant will stay in the system and if you get pulled over, for example, it’s going to come up when they run your license. Guess what? You might have just been pulled over for speeding or a minor traffic violation, but because you have an outstanding warrant, you’re getting arrested and going to jail.
Are You Facing Criminal Charges?
If you’re facing criminal charges, it is imperative to take steps to protect your rights. Call an attorney, remain silent, and stay put to face the charges. Simply being charged doesn’t mean you’re going the found guilty.
If you found this information helpful, be sure to check out some of our other useful articles.