6 Steps to Follow When Facing a Criminal Offense Arrest
Many times, when the police question people, they are unsure if they are free to leave. That said, until the officer formally detains an individual, such as in a traffic stop or places the person under arrest, it is permissible to leave. Conversely, an arrest occurs as soon as an officer prevents an individual from walking away. Accordingly, it is wise for those encountering a criminal offense to understand the process to facilitate an informed and intelligent decision-making process.
Measures for Taking Control
Facing a criminal charge, conviction, or jail time is a terrifying encounter. Even for seemingly minor offenses, a significant concern about the impact and humiliation surrounding a criminal record may exist. Now is the time to contact a family member, an attorney, or a public defender regarding the arrest. Understandably, most people do not know what to expect or what might occur during detainment. Kensley Barrett, a Criminal Defense Lawyer explains the best steps to follow when facing an arrest for a criminal offense.
- Remain polite, calm, and silent. The Fifth Amendment protects the right to refuse to self-incriminate in a criminal case. Stay calm, courteous, and decline to answer all questions. Politely declare that you will address issues in the presence of a lawyer, even if there is an atmosphere suggesting a wrongful arrest or violation of rights. Resisting arrest displays a guilty image and may result in the filing of additional charges.
- Understand the charges. A misdemeanor is punishable by paying a fine, serving time in a county jail, or both. The potential consequences associated with a felony charge are potentially more severe and may include a county jail or prison sentence, or paying restitution to the victim. Further, specific rights may be denied after serving a term of imprisonment, such as the right to own a firearm, vote, serve in the military, or possess a professional license.
- Wait to post bail until speaking with an attorney. Before posting bail or talking to the police, a crucial step in this process is to seek legal representation immediately. An experienced and qualified attorney will review your case and determine the possibility of lowering or waiving bail. A lawyer may also conclude that dropping the charges altogether before the arraignment is a reasonable approach. Further, a lawyer or public defender will fight for and defend your rights should the case goes to court.
- Avoid discussing the case with family and friends. Confidentiality rules do not protect discussions with friends and relatives, unlike those with a lawyer. However, the rules for spouses differ; a married person has the privilege of not testifying against a spouse in a court procedure. Conversely, the prosecution can potentially use exchanges with family and friends against you in court. Still, the best course of action is to avoid discussing the case until it closes.
- Document the incident. The prosecution records everything to build its case starting at the time of the arrest. To provide an attorney with accurate details, write down everything about the events surrounding the arrest while the incident is still fresh. Make sure to include the names and contact information of people who can corroborate your story when the alleged crime occurred, as well as individuals who may attest to your moral character.
- Attend all court proceedings. Usually, people facing a misdemeanor charge may choose their lawyer to represent them in court. However, individuals accused of a felony must be present for the arraignment, plea discussions, preliminary hearings, portions of the trial where defense presents evidence to a jury or judge, and the imposition of the sentence. The law places the burden on the defendant to remember when these events occur and to show up for them.
These essential steps customarily apply to most criminal offense cases. However, always heed the counsel of your lawyer stringently. Researching and tracking your case through the public court records is also crucial.
Factors Aggravating Punishment
The provisions distinguishing particular crimes enumerated in statutes or constitutions also identify suitable punishments. Given the scope of possible sentences, judges usually consider certain mitigating circumstances to determine where the penalty should fall within the prescribed range. Factors to consider include first-time offenses, the presence of duress, potential victims, and whether the offender expresses remorse.