Why You Should Act Quickly After a Criminal Charge

Being charged with a crime can be overwhelming. And if it’s your first time facing a situation like this, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed and confused about how to respond. But the important thing is that you move swiftly.

Time is Not Your Friend

When you’re charged with a crime, the clock starts ticking…immediately. Every hour and day that passes can have an impact on the outcome of your case. It’s critically important to move quickly with your defense – here’s why:

  • Preserve evidence. Physical items might be lost, altered, or destroyed. Digital data such as text messages or emails can be deleted or overwritten. Security camera footage, which can be pivotal, is often erased or recorded over within days or weeks. If you don’t move quickly, you can miss out on these items.
  • Memory: Human memory is unreliable and can quickly become fuzzy. Key details can become blurred, and witnesses’ recollections might change over time due to conversations with other people. By obtaining witness statements early, you ensure that their accounts are as accurate as possible.
  • Bail and Conditions: Bail hearings are typically held soon after charges are filed. Being proactive in securing legal representation can help your bail hearing outcome, potentially reducing the amount of time you spend in custody and allowing you better access to resources to plan your defense.
  • Legal Strategy and Planning: Involving your attorneys early on in the process allows them to lead the charge from the very beginning, limiting the amount of time you’re left “flying solo.” Your lawyer can file motions to challenge the prosecution’s evidence, seek to have charges reduced or dismissed, and negotiate potential plea deals. 

As HGC Law explains, “A criminal charge can easily jeopardize your future. Your job, reputation, rights, and freedom as a citizen can be significantly diminished or taken away entirely if you get convicted.”

With that in mind, you have no choice but to act swiftly and move forward with confidence and precision. Doing so requires a plan.

How to Move Quickly

Don’t confuse moving quickly with moving recklessly. In pursuit of the former, it’s easy to do the latter. But the goal is to move quickly and act prudently. Here are some ways you can do that:

  1.  Don’t Discuss Your Case

Your knee-jerk reaction is probably to start talking. You want to set the record straight and make sure people know that you’re innocent. But the best thing you can do is remain silent. 

While remaining silent might seem like the opposite of moving quickly, it’s actually the foundation of everything you do from here on out. Anything you say can be used against you in court. It’s natural to want to clear things up, but in these situations, words can often be misinterpreted or twisted. Politely but firmly decline to discuss any details of the case with anyone, unless your lawyer is present.

  1. Hire a Lawyer Immediately

One of your first moves should be to find and hire a lawyer who specializes in criminal defense. Having legal representation is not just a privilege – it’s your right. 

While you can always let the court appoint an attorney, we highly suggest not doing this (if it’s at all possible). Nothing against public defenders – they work really hard and don’t get nearly the support they deserve – but you need someone who is highly trained and motivated. 

A skilled attorney can navigate the complexities of criminal law and provide the defense strategy you need. They’ll also handle all communications with the police and the court, making sure that your rights are protected throughout the process.

  1. Preserve Any Evidence

If there’s any evidence that could help your case, make sure it’s safe and protected. This might include text messages, emails, clothing, or anything else related to the incident. Tell your lawyer about these pieces of evidence as soon as you know about them. They’ll advise you on how to keep them safe and how they can be used in your defense.

  1. Document Everything

Write down everything you remember about the situation leading to your charge, as well as what happened afterward. These details can include times, dates, places, and people involved. Memory can fade quickly, so it’s important to get everything on paper as soon as possible. This will help your lawyer build your case.

Adding it All Up

Time is the one thing you can’t get more of. As a defendant in a criminal case, you need to work with your attorney to make sure you’re utilizing every bit of time you have to put your best foot forward. That means hiring a lawyer and following the steps they lay out so that things move as quickly as possible. Good luck!