When should I hire an attorney?

If you are charged with a crime, or believe you are under investigation for suspicion of a crime, you should hire an attorney as soon as possible.

In most cases, a law enforcement agency will investigate a crime before formal charges are filed. The police will do everything possible to gather information, including interviewing people without a lawyer present. Until a person is placed under arrest, they do not have Miranda Rights, meaning the police do not have to advise them about having an attorney present during police questioning. When a person is put in that situation, they usually try to defend themselves, and do not realize they are providing information to the police that will hurt them later in their case. That is why it is so important to have a lawyer present during any communications with the police.

In some circumstances, it is even possible that an attorney will be able to prevent charges from being filed in the first place. If, however, the charges are unavoidable, many agencies will give an attorney a heads-up, allowing the attorney to turn the client in, avoiding the embarrassment of a formal arrest.

If the formal court process has already begun, you want an attorney representing you as early on in the case as possible. Typically, arraignment is your first appearance in court, and any slip-up could cost you big. Additionally, in certain cases you can waive arraignment by hiring an attorney, pushing out your first court date by several weeks. This means a longer amount of time before a judge can set bond conditions, including any mandatory drug or alcohol testing. If you are unable to waive arraignment, it is critical to hire an attorney who will be fighting for the lowest possible bond conditions. If a high bond is set and you are unable to pay it, you will be forced to remain in custody pending the outcome of your case. You also don’t want any bond conditions imposed that you will be unable to comply with.


See other Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What’s the difference between a criminal and civil case?
Can I sue the police?
What will be on my criminal record?
What will happen at my first court date?
How should I prepare for my first meeting with a lawyer?
How much does a lawyer cost?
Can I use a court-appointed lawyer or public defender?
When should I hire an attorney?
How do I choose an attorney?