If you’ve been accused of a crime, it’s important to remember that the situation is far from hopeless. There are many things you can do to improve your chances of a positive outcome, and below we’ll outline some of the most important steps. Keep in mind that every case is unique, so these suggestions may not apply in every situation – be sure to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney for specific advice on your situation.
Hire An Attorney
The first and most important step is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will know how to navigate the criminal justice system and will be your best advocate throughout the process. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you may be able to get a public defender appointed to your case. Hiring a Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer can be beneficial if you are facing charges in the city or suburbs. For example, if you are facing serious charges, you must have an attorney who has experience handling such cases. An attorney will:
- Conduct a thorough investigation
- Analyze the prosecution’s evidence
- Develop defenses
- Negotiate with the prosecutor
- Represent you at trial, if necessary
You should never try to represent yourself in a criminal case – even if the charges are minor, the consequences of a conviction can be significant. The justice system is complex, and the deck is stacked against defendants who choose to represent themselves.
Depending On The Crime
There are different types of crimes that fall under criminal law, including felonies and misdemeanors. The type of crime you are accused of will dictate the severity of the penalties you face if convicted. In general, felonies are more serious than misdemeanors and carry harsher punishments.
- For example, a misdemeanor is typically punishable by up to one year in jail, while a felony is punishable by more than one year in state prison. If you are facing charges for a federal crime, you could be subject to even more severe penalties.
- The first thing you should do if you’ve been accused of a crime is to find out what specific criminal charges have been filed against you, such as if it is domestic violence, assault, drug, etc. You can do this by reviewing the charging documents or speaking with your attorney. Once you know what charges have been filed, you can research the potential penalties and begin to develop a defense strategy.
Be Prepared For Bail
If you are arrested, you will likely be taken to jail where you will be held until your bail hearing. At the bail hearing, a judge will decide whether to release you on your recognizance or set bail. If bail is set, you will be required to post a bond to be released from custody pending trial. The amount of bail will depend on several factors, including the severity of the crime, your criminal history, and whether you are considered a flight risk. If you cannot afford to post bail, you may be able to get help from a bail bondsman.
Gather Information and Evidence
If you’ve been accused of a crime, you must gather as much information and evidence as possible. This may include:
- Witness statements: Witness statements are often the most important evidence in a criminal case. If you have any witnesses who can testify on your behalf, be sure to get their contact information.
- Physical evidence: This may include items such as clothing, weapons, or drugs. If you have any physical evidence that could help your case, be sure to preserve it.
- Photos and videos: If there is video or photographic evidence that could help your case, make copies and give them to your attorney.
- Police reports: Police reports can help understand the charges against you and identify errors. It’s important to note that anything you say to the police can be used against you in court, so it’s best to exercise your right to remain silent and let your attorney do the talking.
Be Careful Who You Talk To
In addition to exercising your right to remain silent with the police, it’s also important to be careful about what you say to others. Once you’ve been accused of a crime, anything you say can be used against you – even if you’re just talking to a friend or family member. If you’re facing criminal charges, it’s best to limit your discussions about the case to your attorney. For example, you should not post anything about your case on social media, as anything you say can be used against you.
Follow Court Orders
If you’ve been accused of a crime, you will likely have to appear in court for a hearing. At this hearing, the judge will decide whether or not to release you on bail. If you are released on bail, you must follow all court orders. This may include conditions such as obeying a curfew, refraining from alcohol or drugs, and avoiding contact with the victim. If you violate any of these conditions, you could be taken into custody and bail could be revoked.
Prepare for Trial
If your case goes to trial, you will need to present your defense. This is why it is so important to hire an experienced criminal attorney. He or she will help you understand the charges against you and develop the best possible defense strategy. You should also be prepared to take the stand and testify on your behalf, if necessary. This can be a difficult decision, but your attorney can advise you on whether or not it is in your best interest to do so. If you are facing jail time, you may want to consider entering a plea bargain. This is an agreement between you and the prosecutor in which you plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a lighter sentence. Again, your attorney can advise you on whether or not this is a good option for you.
Being accused of a crime is a serious matter that should not be taken lightly. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to exercise your rights, gather evidence, and be careful about what you say. You should also follow all court orders and be prepared for trial. If you take these steps, you will be in a better position to fight the charges against you.