The fear of facing a criminal accusation can be crippling, particularly if you’ve never encountered this situation before and don’t know how to handle it, let alone what to expect.
To ease the anxiety and empower you with the means to make positive progress, here are the steps to take if accused of a crime in any part of the country, from Maryland to New Jersey and beyond.
Using your rights to your advantage
Everyone has a set of inalienable rights that govern all aspects of life in the US, including those which are designed to protect us if a criminal accusation lands in our laps.
You can rest easy in knowing that you can’t get convicted of a crime without a trial, whether that takes place with just a judge or with a full jury, depending on the nature of the offense.
You also have the right to remain silent, which is crucial as and when you are arrested. Keeping quiet rather than talking to the police is a very good idea because speaking freely is a one-way ticket to saying the wrong thing and landing yourself in deeper trouble. Before you answer questions, get a lawyer on your side.
Hiring a lawyer to stand up for you and deflect accusations of a criminal offense is advisable for everyone. It’s wise to find Maryland or New Jersey criminal lawyers that have experience defending clients in this context, rather than settling for someone whose specialism lies in another area of the law or, worse still, trying to represent yourself.
There are lots of examples of people who were accused of crimes and then didn’t consult with a lawyer soon enough, only to end up with a conviction that could otherwise have been avoided.
The cost of a criminal defense attorney doesn’t need to be too much of an issue, because if your budget is limited, a court-appointed lawyer is another legal right to which you are entitled.
Ideally, your attorney will be able to deal with the charges you are faced with and prevent the case from going to trial. If this is not possible, then they will be by your side as the court proceedings get underway.
Another aspect of defending yourself from the accusation of a crime that your attorney will be able to help with is that of investigating the incident.
While you might choose to rely on the evidence gathered and investigations carried out by the police to shore up your defense, this might not always be adequate. In this instance, hiring your own investigation team is advisable.
Such investigations can even take place before you are even charged with a crime, and this can nip the proceedings in the bud as soon as possible and allow for a settlement to be reached, for the charges to be changed, or even for the accusation to be retracted altogether.
If all else fails, you will have no option but to participate in a trial, as outlined earlier. Each state has its own set of laws that govern how trials are handled, as well as what sentences can be handed down based on the crime in question.
Once again, your lawyer is your best friend in this setting, and they will be able to coach you through what you will encounter in the court, and what is expected of you as the defendant.
In short, don’t cut corners or assume that everything will work out OK if accused of a crime; instead, work with experts to get an outcome that’s right for you.