What you do once you learn you are being investigated or have been criminally charged can affect the outcome of your case. There is little that you can do on your own to make your situation better. Unfortunately, there are many mistakes that you can make that can make your situation worse. Law enforcement will do everything that they can to win a conviction, and your mistakes can make their life easier. The way to avoid making crucial errors that can muddy your legal situation is to contact an attorney. Your lawyer will advise you about what not to do, and they will deal with the prosecutor on your behalf.
Do Not Speak to the Police
One of the cardinal errors that people facing criminal charges will make is freely talking to the police or speaking with them at all. The reason why police warn you that anything you say can and will be used against you is that they will not hesitate to introduce evidence based on what you have said. Many people are inclined to try to reason with law enforcement, or they think that they can talk their way out of trouble. That will not happen. The only thing that you are doing is damaging your own legal defense.
If law enforcement tries to ask you any questions, you should politely decline. They cannot interrogate you any further when you tell them that you want a lawyer. Nonetheless, police have many tricks that they will use to try to get around the rules. They know important legal precedents, and they tailor their methods to stay within the law. Contacting an attorney as soon as possible can help protect you from law enforcement overreach.
Do Not Contact Potential Witnesses
Once someone is a potential witness to a trial, it is better to cut off all contact with them. The reason is that you can face additional charges by speaking to the witness. In addition to the underlying charges, you can be accused of witness tampering if you are deemed to have tried to influence the testimony.
Witness tampering is a Class A misdemeanor, and it is punishable by up to nine months in prison. Even if you can successfully fight the other charges against you, a conviction for witness tampering can still impact the rest of your life.
Throwing Things Away
Police must only follow the rules regarding searches and seizures when you have an expectation of privacy. You will have an expectation of privacy with your cell phone, when you are in your car, and when you are in your home. The moment that you throw something into the trash outside your home, you lose the expectation of privacy. Law enforcement can search the trash outside your own and recover evidence that they can use in your case.
In addition, you should also not destroy any physical records that pertain to the case against you. Wisconsin has strict penalties for evidence tampering. Evidence tampering can even be charged as a felony. Even if you have incriminating documents in your possession, you must preserve them and comply with any subpoena.
Talking or Posting About the Allegations Against You
If you make a statement or discuss the allegations in a public realm, such as social media, you should assume that the prosecutor can see it. They will certainly use your post against you. If you tell a different story that is inconsistent with your post at trial, the prosecutor can even try to impeach your testimony. As much as you want to give your side of the story and clear your name, it is best to keep quiet. You should also check the privacy settings on your account to make sure that the public cannot see it. Otherwise, law enforcement can be busy combing your profile for anything that they can use to prove their case.
Similarly, you should not talk to anyone about the case. You never know who may be cooperating with the prosecutor or is willing to feed information to them. Silence is your best strategy when you are being investigated or facing criminal charges.
Waiting to Hire a Lawyer
The longer you wait to hire a lawyer, the more you are at risk of making a mistake. Law enforcement may try to push the boundaries when they see that you are unrepresented because they assume that you do not know your legal rights.
Once you make a mistake, you cannot go back and undo it. Not having a lawyer will not be an acceptable excuse if the prosecutor tries to use your error against you. A mistake that you made before you hired a lawyer can doom your criminal defense, no matter how good your attorney is.
Retaining a criminal defense attorney can give you some peace of mind in a very stressful situation. Criminal charges threaten to uproot your entire life and that of your family. It is helpful to know that you have an experienced professional looking out for you and your legal rights.
Missing a Court Appearance
When you are notified that you need to appear in court at a certain time and date, you absolutely must be there. If you miss a court appearance, it will make you look bad in the eyes of the court. When you address a judge, you must be respectful and polite because it is a matter of decorum.
Contact an Appleton, WI Criminal Defense Attorney Today
When you need a criminal defense lawyer, the attorneys at Hogan Eickhoff are in your corner. We are experienced practitioners with a track record of helping clients who find themselves in the legal system. The first thing that you should do is contact us to discuss your case. We will immediately get to work defending your legal rights. To speak with an attorney, contact us online or call today at (920) 450-9800 to schedule your free consultation.