So you've been charged with crime. It stinks. There is nothing good about it. But here is the thing. It is probably pretty fixable. I'm not saying it isn't a big deal. But I am saying it can be fixed. I've seen thousands of people have the same problem and come out on the other side. But many people don't do the correct things once they've been charged. I refer everyone to the first rule of holes, which states: "if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging." The lesson? Don't make your situation worse. I've put together this list of what not to do, which ultimately will help you figure out what to do.
1. Do not start talking to everyone you know about the fact that you've been charged with a crime. It doesn't help you to make the world aware you are facing a criminal charge. I understand that it is scary and overwhelming but this is not the kind of issue that you should be sharing to the world. And for the love of god do not put anything about it on social media.
2. Do not attempt to do legal research. What do I mean? Stop googling the charge. Stop googling jail time. Stop googling anything that doesn't have to do with finding a lawyer. The internet has a wealth of information but there is no filter on it. Will some information be accurate? Probably. Will some information be useful? Maybe. Will other information needlessly scare the crap out of you, for no reason at all, at the worst time possible? 100%.
3. Do not ignore it. You've been charged with a crime. It isn't going away so stop pretending it will. Your life and your future matter. They actually do. So take action to protect both.
4. Do not ignore your legal obligations. If you've been charged with a crime you definitely have a Court date. Do not blow off your Court date. It will make things even worse. You will be deemed a Failure to Appear and have a warrant for your arrest. If you've been charged with a crime, you might be on bail. Were you taken to jail and released on conditions? If so, know what those conditions are and follow them! Common conditions include no use or possession of alcohol or firearms and no contact with specified individuals (usually witnesses and alleged victims). If you get caught violating your conditions you will go back to jail and have new charges.
5. Don't represent yourself. Many people will start writing letters to the Judge or the Prosecutor. Many people will go to Court without a lawyer. It is a bad idea to do either. People not well-versed and trained in the law can make massive mistakes in their case and not even know it. There are two main reasons why representing yourself is bad: the first is that you aren't a lawyer. Now I'm not saying lawyers are all that special but the reality is that the education and testing it takes to be a lawyer are pretty extensive. More importantly, practicing law is difficult. It takes years of experience and true dedication to improve at being a lawyer. If your case is important to you (and it should be) maybe you shouldn't be counting on someone (you) who didn't go to law school, hasn't passed the bar exam and has never represented anyone....ever. Let's assume you could be a great lawyer, I bet many could, but you aren't going to be great on your first case with zero education, training or experience. The second reason representing yourself is dumb is because you can't think straight about your own case, you just can't. Emotions are illogical. Ever wanted to lose weight but crush a bag of chips at night? Ever start texting an Ex you know you shouldn't? We make bad decisions when we're emotional. You are going to be emotional about your own case. Don't represent yourself.
6. Do not go through this alone. You need a defense attorney. When people are sick they need a doctor. When your hot water doesn't work you need a plumber. When you have a toothache you need a dentist. When you're charged with a crime you need a criminal defense attorney. Not just any attorney, a criminal defense attorney. Everyone knows that when you have a problem, you contact the people that specialize in dealing with that problem. It isn't complicated.
7. Read #6 again.
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