How soon should you call a lawyer in a criminal case?

In most movies and television shows depicting criminal defense lawyers, most of the action occurs in the courtroom. The dedicated lawyer, fighting the prosecutor and eliminating evidence against the accused is a popular image.

However, there is more to criminal defense practice than fighting it out in the courtroom. In fact, with a good lawyer, a lot of cases are dismissed or handled before anyone sees the inside of a courtroom. With significant fines, jail time and damage to your permanent record on the line, you should know the right time to call a lawyer in your criminal defense case.

Where are you in your case?

When to call a lawyer depends greatly on where you are in your case:

  • Under investigation: In some cases, a person suspects he or she is under investigation for a crime. If you are in this situation, ask yourself where your suspicions are coming from. If you have some real evidence of being under investigation, like regularly seeing unmarked cars near your home, being followed or getting word from a friend that they have been questioned about you, call a lawyer immediately.
  • Arrested: If you have been arrested, call a lawyer immediately. You should not say anything to the police until talking to an experienced criminal defense attorney. The police really do know how to twist your words and make you look worse in court if you speak without the benefit of counsel.
  • Charged: Of course, if you have been charged with a crime, you should call an attorney right away. A good lawyer can help you fight these charges and minimize the damage to your life.

To be clear: You should call a lawyer immediately at the very first clear suspicion of being in any trouble with the law. If you have good reason to believe you are a person of interest in a crime or under investigation of any kind by the authorities, call a lawyer NOW.