Imagine this scenario: The police come to your home or your place of business. They say that they need to speak with you, or maybe casually ask if they can “take a look around.” They’re friendly, non-threatening, and tell you they have a few questions and just want your help clearing up a few things.
They may even request that you come with them to the station where you can all be more comfortable. You’re not sure if you’re a witness to something, the target of an investigation, or under arrest, and though you ask the police questions about what’s going on, their answers are vague and they’re not giving you any information.
Understanding your rights and what you should and shouldn’t do is your best and most powerful tool if and when the police want to interview you or conduct a search of your property. And your most important right is to have the assistance of a Virginia criminal defense lawyer.
When Should I Call a Virginia Criminal Defense Lawyer?
Real police interrogations are not like those you see on TV. Law enforcement only needs to read you your rights, the Miranda warning we’re all so familiar with if you are in custody. Anything you say to the police, inadvertently or in a conversation, can be used against you whether you’ve been “read your rights” or not. Trying to be helpful and answer questions, or trying to explain your situation is never a good idea, and a Virginia criminal lawyer will make sure that you don’t say something that could hurt you later.
A knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney’s first job is to protect your rights, and they understand that a mistake, even before an arrest takes place, could be the difference between charges filed or not.
It’s time to call a lawyer if:
You are read your rights – Once you hear the Miranda warning, you are being arrested. Say nothing other than “I am asserting my right to silence.” Words are your enemy. You have the right to call an attorney or have a lawyer provided to you. Use that right. Once you’ve invoked your right to an attorney, the police can no longer question you without your lawyer present, so sit quietly and wait. The one exception is that you should provide only answers to biographical questions like name, date of birth, address, etc. Police must process your arrest for you to get released. It’s also extremely important that you remain polite and respectful at all times.
Police want to conduct a search – Whether law enforcement has a search warrant or not, there are rules that apply to a legal search. The police can’t just go crazy and tear up your property looking for anything that might be incriminating. You should be told what they are looking for and what might be removed from the premises. If the police don’t have a warrant, they need your permission to search your property. A Virginia criminal defense lawyer will tell you, even if only over the phone, what you should and shouldn’t do.
The police want to bring you in for questioning – This is a red flag and should be cause for concern. Law enforcement wants you on their territory where they can control the situation. Call a lawyer immediately and don’t answer any additional questions until your attorney arrives.
Questioning changes…and not for the better – The tone or attitude of the officers’ questions changes and becomes more strident, accusatory, and less “friendly.” New personnel comes in to question or accuse you. You feel uncomfortable and the situation begins to feel out of control. Trust your instincts, stop talking, and call a Virginia criminal lawyer.
You don’t know if your situation needs the help of criminal defense attorneys – Something is scaring you or making you uncomfortable. It’s time to err on the side of caution and call a lawyer.
Always call a Virginia criminal defense attorney if you are arrested for:
- Drug possession or distribution
- Domestic violence
- Gun offenses
- Sex Offenses
- Any misdemeanor or felony offense
What Should You Consider When Choosing a Virginia Criminal Lawyer?
There are many important aspects you should consider when choosing between Virginia criminal lawyers. First, make sure you choose an attorney experienced with Virginia criminal law who has already handled criminal offense cases. It would be best if you also had a lawyer who regularly practices in the jurisdiction where you are charged.
That may not seem important, but having strong local relationships can result in knowing what to expect from the judges and prosecutors. That type of knowledge can be used to your advantage.
Also, make sure that the attorney you choose often takes cases to trial. That way, your attorney will be there throughout the whole case and is not afraid to take a case to trial if necessary.
Above all, choose an attorney you feel comfortable with and with whom you can talk to. Your Virginia criminal lawyer will be the one you will be taking a lot of crucial advice from. Facing criminal charges can be frightening, whether you are charged with a felony or misdemeanor offense. That’s why you should make sure you choose your lawyer carefully.
Exercise Your Right – Hire an Attorney
Often, people are afraid that if they call or hire a criminal defense lawyer that they are admitting fault or guilt. Hiring an attorney is the way that you protect your rights and it cannot be used against you. It is important that you defend yourself in the best way possible, whether you are arrested or just being questioned.
The right time to call a criminal defense attorney is as soon as you have an encounter with the police. Don’t wait until formal charges are filed against you to seek legal help. Every minute you wait to contact an attorney is an opportunity to make a mistake that may jeopardize your case and your freedom. Remember, they cannot legally punish you for exercising your rights.
Contact Jay Mykytiuk today
If you’re looking for an experienced criminal defense law firm that will fight for your rights throughout the criminal process, contact Jay P. Mykytiuk, Trial Attorney. Mr. Mykytiuk has successfully represented individuals throughout Virginia who have been arrested and charged with different criminal offenses. Contact us today at 202-318-3761 to discuss your case.