How to Cope When Charged with a Serious Crime

What to Do When You've Broken the Law



Coping with a Crime You Committed

Being charged with a serious crime can be a harrowing experience and one that most of us never plan for. However, knowing what to do should you find yourself in such a situation dramatically increases your chances of being treated fairly and receiving a fair hearing at a trial. Below are some of the most important pieces of advice to remember if you find yourself charged with a serious crime.

Hire an Attorney

This should be the first thing you do. Life isn’t like the movies, and you won’t be entitled to that famous phone call like on TV, but you will have the opportunity to contact a lawyer, or you will be appointed a public defender. In either case, you need to speak to an attorney before you do anything else, in particular before saying anything, no matter how innocent it may seem. If the crime you are accused of is serious, you will need a federal criminal defense attorney who specializes in federal crimes. Regardless of the exact crime, you are accused of, you should seek out a lawyer who specializes in whatever area of law is most relevant to your case.

Going to Trial

Whether you’re innocent or guilty, you are entitled to a fair trial, and understanding this process will help you immensely. You should also remember that just because a case is taken to trial, it does not mean that the police or a judge expects you to be convicted. It means that the prosecutor who reviewed the police report from your address is satisfied that your case meets the requirements for a trial to take place. The prosecutor who reviews your case often only has the police report to refer to, and these are not always completely accurate, and there is no requirement for them to be. This is because witnesses in the immediate aftermath of a crime may get small details wrong, or they may be operating on a deliberate lie told by another party to absolve them of responsibility. Consulting with an attorney as soon as possible will allow you access to the police report as early as possible and give you the best hope of building a defense. 

Intervening Before Charges

An experienced criminal defense lawyer will be prepared to intervene before any charges have officially been filed against you or before going to trial. Your attorney can speak to the prosecutor or the arresting officer and offer your side of the story in such a way that all parties agree to settle the case without the need for a full criminal trial. If this happens, you won’t have to risk being saddled with a criminal record that could potentially affect your job and other opportunities in the long term.

None of us expect to be going to court accused of a serious crime, but all of us want to be as prepared as possible should it happen. It’s good to know that there are lawyers out there who can fight the case on your behalf.

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