Posted on June 8, 2015
Why Hiring an Attorney Immediately After Your Arrest is Important
The Sixth Amendment of the California and United States Constitution guarantees an individual the right to an attorney. Importantly however, that guarantee does not attach until your first criminal court appearance. Oftentimes, you may be arrested but formal charges may not be alleged against you for months or even years later. The reason for the delay in prosecuting someone for a criminal offense are numerous – e.g., scarce prosecutorial resources, further investigation, legal research, backed up evidence review, etc. When there is a delay in bringing forth criminal charges, one is prone to be deprived of pertinent evidence in their favor by the mere passage of time. For instance, the accused memory of the incident fades, witnesses may no longer recall what they observed, and physical evidence is liable to be lost and or destroyed. In that instance, you can fall victim to a substantial deprivation of your due process right. But what are the advantages when retaining a criminal defense attorney at the earliest juncture?
First, when you are arrested for criminal charges, the police write up a report and gather the evidence against you. The case is then submitted to the prosecuting agency for review to determine whether formal criminal charges should be brought against you. The prosecutor will look at the evidence very narrowly by only looking at what the police officers have to say as well as consider their opinions. This can have a tremendous impact on you since there could be outstanding exculpatory evidence that can substantially reconsider the prosecutor’s determination to file charges or less severe charges. A skilled criminal defense attorney will get started on your case right away. Most of the time, an attorney can submit a package to the prosecutor containing character letters, certificates, evidence in your favor, along with a detailed letter explaining the circumstances. This package serves to avoid criminal charges completely by having the prosecutor consider your character and the underlying circumstances of the case. For example, if you were arrested for battery causing great bodily injury, a package may include letters from respected persons within the community vouching that you are a non-violent person. This could substantially mitigate your exposure as the prosecutor may reject the case completely or file less severe charges of simple battery. Submitting a package is common among domestic violence cases where the incident was a big misunderstanding and everything has been resolved between the parties.
Next, pertinent evidence that could play an important role on a foreseeable defense is liable to lost or destroyed. For instance, if you were arrested for DUI, the police officer is exaggerating the circumstance leading to your arrest, video surveillance footage from local businesses and street cameras must be preserved in order to impeach or negate the police officers contentions. The problem however is that video surveillance footage is usually re-recorded or destroyed after a few weeks. Unfortunately, footage captured from business and or street cameras are not often distributed to the public and require a subpoena. A criminal defense attorney would contact those business, person, or city by submitting notices to preserve evidence demanding that they stop all re-recordings or destruction of the footage as it is potential evidence to be used in court. Once preserved, your attorney can subpoena that evidence to court to be used in your favor.
Last, your attorney will ensure that law enforcement investigators do not harass or attempt to investigate you further by questioning you in an effort that you give an incriminating statement giving them more evidence against you. Your attorney will contact the law enforcement agency and inform the detective that all communications must be through the attorney. This usually gives individuals peace of mind knowing that they are represented and no longer anxious about speaking with the police.
If you have been arrest or charged with a crime, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney John Rogers at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers for a free confidential consultation concerning your rights and defenses.