Protect Yourself Before You Are Charged
If you were involved in an incident which you believe may lead to charges against you, you must not let it go and hope for the best. Chances are, if you are honest with yourself, you will have a pretty good idea if you are in danger of being charged. If you have been charged, the charges will never go away until they are dealt with in court. If you have not been charged…yet, it is a perfect time to have an experienced, respected, and top-rated criminal defense attorney enter the picture and do the inquiring for you, and perhaps talk the police or prosecutor into not charging you. An experienced lawyer may also be able to prevent you from being arrested on new charges.
Can I find out if there are charges without a lawyer?
The answer is maybe yes and maybe no. If the charge is already filed, a court may tell you there is a pending charge. Many courts will not release this information until the defendant is arraigned on open felony or misdemeanor charges. If your charges are still being investigated and charges are not issued, the court will not be able to provide you any information whatsoever.
If you decide to first look into the matter yourself, you can check the district court website in the city where the incident occurred. You log on to the court website and if it has a case search function available you can enter your name and see if there is an outstanding case against you. This is a convenient and anonymous way to look into the matter.
If you call the court, you would ask the criminal clerk if there is a case pending against you. Again, they may or may not answer your question. If a clerk sees that there are charges against you (a warrant), the clerk may tell you you must come in to court or police department and present identification before they will give you an answer. When you show up, you will likely be taken into custody and brought before a magistrate for arraignment. You should never, never go to court without a lawyer. If you are told you must appear in court or the police department for any reason, it is highly advisable that you end your self-help efforts at that point.
You can also call the local police station, the sheriff, or the State Police and ask them if there is a case pending. This can quickly become problematic, however, because if there is an investigation or if charges have already been filed, you will immediately be pressed by the officer you are speaking to to either come in to the station or answer some probing questions. You will most likely be intimidated and nervous, and will be reluctant to end the conversation, at the risk of offending the officer. This is a common and completely human reaction to being in such position. In the worst-case scenario, the officer will misinterpret something you say and then use it against you at after charges are issued. A lawyer can contact the police on your behalf without fear that something will be said or done that can be used against you in court or in an investigation.
If you do have any contact with law enforcement or a police officer, you should immediately invoke your right to remain silent and ask for an attorney. You should know is that the officer will not be offended and he or she will know you are only exercising a constitutional right.
What can a lawyer do for me?
Everything. An astute, reputable criminal defense attorney will know exactly how to deal with the situation. He or she will contact the court and ask if you are in the court system. Clerks usually will tell an attorney. An attorney can also call the police and ask if they have a case on you. Sometimes they will not tell the attorney if a case is still under investigation, but the best attorneys know how to get information out of law enforcement politely and professionally. Even if charges haven’t been obtained your attorney can contact the officer in charge and tell him or that they do not need to come out and arrest you if there is a warrant. Police like the idea of not having to track people down. If a known and respected attorney tells them he or she will walk you in voluntarily at a convenient time, the police know they can rely upon that statement.
If a case is simply being investigated, sometimes the police will actually want to discuss the case with a retained attorney. If so, it is the attorney’s perfect opportunity to attempt to dissuade the police from seeking a warrant. There are countless ways a top-rated attorney can do this and they are too many to mention here. Knowing how to do this is what divides the best attorneys from the less than best. If you wait until you have been charged or wait for a court-appointed attorney, the opportunity to stop or reduce charges is lost forever.
The best attorneys to have in your corner…
The dedicated, experienced and zealous defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully represented thousands of clients under investigation for possible felony and misdemeanor charges in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Livingston Counties and throughout Michigan. We have a well-earned reputation for providing the highest quality defense and aggressive representation, while showing empathy and care for each client. If you want your best chance at stopping or reducing potential charges, call us today at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.