Speaking to An Attorney for a Virginia Criminal Case
You have the right to an attorney even if you have not been arrested yet. Even before you have been formally charged, it is important that you consult with a Virginia criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and begin building a defense. The following is what you need to know regarding when a lawyer can be contacted and the impact it can have on your case. Call today to learn more.
Your Right to Seek Counsel
You do not have the right to speak to an attorney instead of being arrested but you have the right to have an attorney present before questioning, and you do not have to answer questions without an attorney present.
If the officer tries to perform an arrest you may not say, “Stop, you can’t arrest me. I want to talk to my attorney.” However, you never have to speak to law enforcement unless they are going to serve legal process on you or they have a probable cause to investigate something further. You should almost always identify yourself to law enforcement if they ask, even if you don’t believe you are required to. After that, though, you should exercise your right to consult an attorney before answering any questions.
If an officer simply asks to speak with you, this may be a consensual encounter and you are absolutely free to politely decline the officer’s request. If, however, you are placed under arrest, your right to counsel is triggered. You should absolutely feel free to decline any questions at that time and you can ask the officer to speak with an attorney.
If you are ever told you have the right to have an attorney present, the best thing to do is to clearly state that you do want an attorney.
Does Asking to Speak With a Lawyer Imply Guilt?
It absolutely does not. It is a common misconception that may even be a tactic by the law enforcement officers that they may say that contacting attorney implies guilt. It is absolutely not true. You can feel free to invoke your right to counsel at any time. It is true, however, that requesting and hiring an attorney often puts an end to an interrogation or even a whole investigation.
Importance of Contacting An Attorney
It is important to speak to counsel right away for a number of reasons. The simplest reason is to understand what is going on. A criminal defense attorney, deals with criminal investigations and criminal arrest procedures on a daily basis and are therefore well versed in a variety of different circumstances that may lead to your investigation and may lead to your arrest. This may be your first time encountering law enforcement, and you want to make sure that you don’t mistakenly give the law enforcement official or the prosecutor ammunition to prosecute you. You want to be available for the best defense possible.
You should understand that the police work with smart people all the time and have a lot of practice gathering exactly the evidence they need from people who are very smart. It is never a good idea to go into a situation with such high stakes alone when you have the right to have a real professional on your side fighting for you.
In addition, an experienced lawyer will be well versed in the procedures, and you may have questions as to what will happen next, who you should talk to, and what to expect. An attorney can help you understand what to expect and can use the process to get the most information and best possible bargaining scenario.
Lastly, you want to set up your case for the very best defenses possible without ostentatiously committing new crimes and inadvertently doing things that will unduly influence your witnesses. An attorney will also be well versed in how to set up a proper defense in a timely basis, including the steps you can take to prepare for court.
What To Discuss With Your Attorney
If you have been arrested, you should have all the documents received at the time of your arrest in front of you when you contact an attorney. The attorney will want to know what documents you have, what you have been served with, what you have been charged with, as well as the timeframe for all these actions. Your conversation during the initial consultation with the experienced criminal defense attorney will be confidential. Therefore, you can appropriately disclose the full facts of the case to them.
You should tell your attorney everything you know during the consultation so that you will be able to structure the best possible defense strategy.