Top 6 Steps for Starting Your Criminal Defense in New Jersey
Being charged with any criminal offense, from a traffic ticket-crime(felony), can be stressful. Often times people are unsure how to begin preparing their defense. This guide will give you the important information to begin preparing your defense. Follow this guide to get the best possible result.
Keep Silent! DO NOT TALK ABOUT YOUR CASE WITH ANYONE!Most people who have ever watched a police tv show are familiar with the line "you have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law." This is real.
Most people think this only applies to what they tell the police about their case. In fact, any person you talk to about you case can be called as a witness against you, except one person.
That person is your lawyer. Anything you tell your lawyer is protected by attorney-client privilege. Anything you say to any person but your lawyer can and will be used against you.
Hire a LawyerA lawyer is there to represent your interests and goals. They are there to provide you honest advice about the charge against you, the strength of the government's case, the penalties you might face, and your options in the case.
They are on your side throughout the process fighting for you. The sooner you hire a lawyer the sooner they can begin preparing your defense. Many offer a free consultation, and some (like me) offer payment plans to pay their legal fee. Don't let a fear of price prevent you from having a lawyer fighting for you. The penalties can be severe (fines, jail, loss of driver's license, etc.) and a lawyer can get the best possible result.
Know your Next Court Date!Check the bottom of your traffic tickets and/or criminal complaint to see if you have a first appearance court date scheduled. Missing a court date can lead to a warrant for your arrest being issued.
Make sure to bring original copies of your ticket and/or criminal complaint to your attorney. They will be able to determine if the court date can be cancelled, or request a rescheduling if necessary.
Gather the Name and Address of WitnessesBring to your initial consultation the names and addresses of any eye-witnesses or others who can be helpful in your defense. Your attorney will then be able to contact these people as they prepare your defense.
Gather Photos and/or Documents About Your CaseAt the time of the accident take photos of the scene. Bring these photos to your initial consultation. Also be sure to bring any documents you received from the police and/or court about your case. Finally, bring any documents, photos, etc which are related to your case. Your attorney will need this information to prepare your case.
What You Don't Need to GatherDo not worry about getting a police report or try to talk to the police. Your attorney will be able to get that information from either the police or prosecutor.
Remember tip #1, anything you say can and will be used against you. Let your attorney handle dealing with the police and prosecutor.