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Experts Speak

When Should I Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?

Incarceration is one of the most frightening words in the English language. A person’s freedom is a precious thing and being jailed for a crime is one of the worst things that can happen to anyone.

a man in his desk with a nameplate in front of him with the word lawyer written in it

When a person is accused of a crime, they will normally hire a lawyer or use the one the court provides to them. However, there are several situations in which you may need legal representation even if you have not been formally charged with a crime.

When You are a Person of Interest

When you see a crime, you may be questioned by the police as an eyewitness. The police will want to question you to get an account of what you saw. If you have no relationship with the victim or the accused, chances are you will just tell the police what you saw. A prosecuting attorney may call you if they feel that what you have to say is significant. 

There are some cases in which you may be considered a witness even if you did not see the crime. The police may question you if you had a relationship with the person who is accused of a crime or the victim of that crime.

For example, if someone you work with, are related to, or are friends with goes missing, the police may ask you if you know where they are. They may ask you about the person’s habits and the people with whom the victim associates. This would also be true if the person was robbed, burglarized, or murdered.

If the police question you about someone you know, you may be considered a person of interest. This is a vague term that applies to a person who may know something about a crime. If the police question you in a case such as this, you are not obligated to answer them and you should talk to an attorney. 

If You are a Material Witness 

Anyone who has seen an episode of “The Sopranos” has heard the term “material witness.” A material witness is someone who has information that is of probative value.

 This is basically information that could make or break a case. When a person is a material witness they may be subpoenaed to testify. 

Although they are not considered under arrest, the police can detain a material witness to make sure they appear in court. In some cases, they may consider a person a material witness before they have all the evidence they need to consider them a suspect.

According to a Florida criminal defense legal group, If you are a material witness, you should definitely ask to speak to an attorney before you answer questions. 

If You are Accused of a Crime

Obviously, if you are accused of a crime, you will need an attorney. Most legal professionals will tell you that it is unwise to talk to the police without your lawyer present. The government is required to provide you with an attorney if you cannot afford one. However, a private attorney is generally a better choice as they will have more time to devote to your case. 

You should never represent yourself in court if you are not an attorney. Lawyers have years of experience in dealing with criminal cases. They are trained professional speakers who are well versed in arguing before a judge and jury.

Being suspected or accused of a crime is terrifying. A good lawyer can make you feel secure and fight for your freedom. 

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by Sushree Swagatika

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