The process of bringing a defendant to trial may begin at many ways. Not every suspect is arrested at the “scene of the crime”. Because of this, many people who may ultimately be arrested are interviewed by the police one or more times prior to arrest. This is important because Miranda Rights—the requirement that the police read the accused their rights—does not happen at the point the arresting agency suspects, believes or is even convinced of the guilt of the individual. An individual is only read his or her Miranda Rights, and the protection only applies, when that individual has been arrested. If you’re a suspect, accused or charged with a crime, you should contact an attorney immediately.
This means that what an individual states prior to being arrested and read their rights can be used against them in one way or another. At the Tull Law Firm, we urge everyone, whether you’re guilty or innocent, to contact an attorney as soon as they know they are involved in an investigation. Until a person has their attorney present, it is best to be cooperative with the investigation but not answer questions relating to their involvement. It is far better to tell the investigating agency this is not a good time for an interview, set a time in the future and have your attorney present for that interview. The investigating agency cannot detain you without arresting you so merely indicate you will cooperate with the investigation but not at this time and establish a time in the future to answer their questions; far enough in the future so your attorney can be present. Your attorney is your safeguard against very seasoned and clever professionals who have been through this process hundreds of times. While you may think you are equipped to handle this process on your own, it is far better to have a professional on your side of the table to offset the obvious advantage the investigating agency has on their side.
Once an arrest has occurred, it is time to formally demand your attorney and to stay totally silent, actively refusing to answer any questions or engage in any conversation without your lawyer present. The law requires that once an arrested individual has evoked their rights to have their attorney present, all questioning must cease. However, it is only the interrogation that must cease; anything the accused says during this period can be used against them.
Silence during this period should be absolute and is totally without regard to the accused’s guilt or innocence. Many innocent people think that if they just cooperate with the investigators, answer their questions, and not make them mad by demanding an attorney they will be set free and the experience will be over. Television shows like Law and Order and CSI make this seem like a common occurrence. It’s usually not what happens, however. Upon arrest, immediately invoke your rights to have an attorney present before and remain respectful but silent. Remember that even if you cannot afford an attorney, you have the same rights to remain silent until your court appointed attorney is present.
Parents with children who are approaching the age of 12 need to start instilling in them these principals of respect and silence when it comes to questioning by law enforcement. As children start being out on their own their risk of being caught up in something they had nothing to do with increases dramatically. They need to have ingrained in them a firm understanding that talking with individuals who are investigating a crime may not be in their best interest. Respect for authority and silence until their attorney is present needs to be automatic. A word caution to parents, do not think you are any more capable of representing your minor children in an investigation than you are in representing yourself. Try to get to your children as soon as possible so you can assist them in invoking their rights to have an attorney present during all questioning.
With all this said, the Tull Law Firm, PLLC stands ready to come to you or your aid, day or night, when confronted with a situation like the ones described above. You can call us at 615.530.5719 twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, to come to your assistance if that is needed or to ensure the investigating agency does not attempt further questioning until we are present. If you have been detained, we will also assist you in arranging for bail if that is possible, and, if not, ensure your rights are not violated.
During the first few hours and days following an arrest there will be several hearings and other proceedings where the accused will need their attorney present. These first few days are critical in setting bail, learning the early theories of the prosecution and making strategic decisions that will guide the process over the ensuing months. Once the preliminary proceedings have concluded there is often a long pause as both sides prepare their cases. During the time between arrest and trial there are countless opportunities to settle the matter in a manner favorable to the accused. Having an attorney working for you throughout the process will greatly increase the likelihood of a positive settlement or a successful trial. The earlier the attorney becomes involved in the process the more likely the chance of a positive outcome.
A final note to those that are guilty. While guilt is a major issue – it is not the only factor to consider. No one should every consider pleading guilty to a charge without first consulting an attorney. There are wide ranges for sentencing and even a person who is guilty of a crime may not be guilty of the crime for which they are charged. The law is very complex and the elements of each crime are different. Working with an attorney will help ensure the guilty party is charged with the correct crime and receives the appropriate sentence. This is not necessarily the case by appearing before a judge and pleading guilty to the charges brought.
Immigrants: Never plead guilty to a criminal charge without consulting an attorney. Doing so will have serious consequences on your immigration status. Call our office at 615.530.5719 for an evaluation of your case if you have been charged with any crime.
Inmigrantes: Nunca se declare culpable de un cargo criminal sin consultar a un abogado. Si esto sucede, tendrá consecuencias graves sobre su estatus migratorio. Llame a nuestra oficina al 615.530.5719 para una evaluación de su caso si usted ha sido acusado de algún delito.