Consulting an Attorney in a Manassas Criminal Case
Getting arrested or charged with a criminal offense in Manassas, Virginia can be an excruciating and stressful process. For someone who has never gone through the process before, he or she might not know how to proceed. Below, a Manassas criminal lawyer explains some basic things to know if an individual has been arrested and/or charged with a criminal offense. To learn more about the criminal case process or to seek representation, call today and schedule a consultation with our experienced Manassas criminal attorneys.
When to Contact an Attorney
After an individual is arrested, he is taken to the adult detention center in Manassas, where he is processed and booked. Once that initial process is over, the individual will have the right to call an attorney or to have an attorney come and see them at the jail. These two instances represent the first opportunity that an individual has to speak with a lawyer after an arrest. But it is important not to wait until you are arrested before speaking to an attorney if you know you are under investigation.
Does It Imply Guilt to Ask to Speak With an Attorney?
Telling an officer that you want to speak to an attorney does not imply guilt. Under both the Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the United States Constitution, an individual has an absolute right to have the assistance of an attorney at every phase of the trial process. In fact, once one tells the police that they want to talk to an attorney, the police are required to stop any questioning of the individual from that point forward.
Speaking to Counsel Before Even Charged in Manassas
It is important to speak with a lawyer when Manassas law enforcement officials first contact you because that is likely the start of an investigation for criminal misconduct. The purpose of such investigations is to gather evidence. This could be physical evidence, circumstantial evidence, or even statements made by you that can be used to support arrest warrants for the crimes that are being investigated.
Individuals often make the mistake of interacting with the police by answering police questions or taking tests that police request they take, such as field sobriety tests or polygraph tests. Such tests then serve to incriminate individuals, which in turn makes it more difficult for counsel to defend of their case.
A lawyer will appropriately advise an individual as to if and when it is appropriate to make statements to the police, and therefore speaking with a lawyer at the outset of a police investigation is critical.
What to Ask an Attorney
When an individual speaks to an attorney, he should have read any and all of the documents that have been given to him by the police or judge. Examples of these documents include warrants, summonses, a recognizance, notices of chemical testing, or lab material or blood alcohol certificates. A lawyer will review the documents to understand the nature of the charges.
When speaking to a lawyer, there are several important questions one should ask. First, one should know what the elements of the charged crime are, and what the prosecution has to prove in order to secure a conviction. Next, it is important to understand what kinds of defenses are available. Also, one should know what kinds of evidence would be important during the trial of the case. Individuals should be asking the attorney what the attorney’s tactics will be in defending him, as well as what the attorney believes are the realistic chances for success. In addition, individuals should be asking whether the attorney has experience with this kind of case, whether the attorney has had success in these kinds of cases in the past, and if the attorney has significant familiarity with the jurisdiction in which the individual has been charged.