Anyone arrested for a crime should retain a defense attorney as soon as possible, ideally before they face formal charges. When the police arrest a suspect they must “mirandize” the suspect, and grant a detained or arrested citizen certain other civil rights, which are important to understand, as they may play a part in later proceedings.
An arrest can be a jarring experience, but it’s important for every suspect to keep these rights in mind to avoid self-incrimination. If a suspect knows he or she is guilty of the charges in question, cooperating with the police can sometimes work out in the suspect’s favor when it comes to plea bargains and later sentencing. However, it is always best to consult with a lawyer before speaking with the police, even if the suspect knows he or she is guilty and the prosecution will have a solid case.
The police typically prefer to move quickly from an arrest to formal charges. However, an arrested suspect can avoid unjust charges once more evidence about the situation comes to light, or the police arrest the actual perpetrator. Additionally, the police cannot press formal charges without evidence. If the police arrest someone on suspicion of a crime they may attempt to interrogate the suspect, but the suspect is not legally required to answer any questions. Unfortunately, the police may intimidate some suspects so much that they confess to crimes they did not commit or otherwise give the police cause to suspect them further. This can create problems for the suspect and make it harder for him or her to clear his or her name.
If the police come to the conclusion that they have arrested the wrong suspect, the suspect is typically free to go. However, if the police arrested the suspect at the scene of a crime or in the vicinity of a crime scene, they may come back to the suspect later to ask questions about the crime. Again, the suspect must exercise his or her best judgment in the situation. If the suspect knows there is nothing linking him or her to the criminal activity in question, then it may be possible to speak with the police to help with an investigation. However, if there is any reason for the police to believe the suspect may have been involved with the crime in any way, the suspect should retain a defense attorney before answering any questions.
Some people may think that asking for your lawyer to be present before speaking to the police makes one appear guilty, but this is not so. Ultimately, the best rule of thumb to remember about speaking to the police is to never do so without your attorney present. If you have committed some kind of crime or have knowledge about the allegations in question, your attorney can help you navigate the situation without unduly implicating yourself.
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