In my previous post, I talked about the legal mechanics of how someone might be falsely accused in court of a crime. If you’ve been accused falsely of a crime, such as Massachusetts assault and battery, what are the steps you should take? Pay attention to the following:
1) Do not take the matter lightly, no matter how unimportant the charge may seem to you. Too many people think that unless the accusation is extremely serious, such as a Massachusetts sex offense, they needn’t take the matter seriously. Or they think, “I’m innocent, and the judge or jury will see this.” Not true. If you are charged and found guilty of the least serious of Massachusetts crimes, you will still have a criminal record, all your life. The record is open, public information, and will follow you everywhere. That is not good. Period.
2) Do not skimp on either the qualifications of the attorney you hire, and do not skimp on the expense of the attorney’s fee. Don’t go “bargain-hunting” for your defense attorney. Find an experienced and successful Massachusetts criminal defense attorney – and unless the fee is clearly unreasonable (e.g., 4 or 5 times what other lawyers charge,) then find a way to pay for it. Many criminal offenses carry a high risk of conviction, and trying to “save money” on a matter as important as this, is not a smart move. Make sure that your choice of defense attorney has handled – successfully – at least dozens of the type of case that you are facing. Too many people in such situations think that if they hire an attorney who handles these types of criminal cases only “now and again,” and hence charges a low fee, they’ll be alright. Thinking this way is a big mistake, and if you make either of these mistakes, you will probably find yourself in a much worse legal situation than you started out with. Ask the attorney for references. Ask anything that comes into your mind.
3) Document all the evidence that you can. Write down all the details that you possibly can – as soon as possible after the event. Record these details, no matter how small you may think they are. Your attorney will decide later what information is and isn’t needed. Preserve any physical evidence that you think your attorney might be interested in.
4) Make a list of all possible witnesses to the underlying event, detailing the names and contact information of any and all persons that could be witnesses. Write these names down on either index cards, or type them into an appropriate file on your computer and make backup copies. Aside from names and contact information, you should also record a brief background on any witnesses, what information he or she might be able to testify to – and why you feel that witness’ testimony would help you. Your attorney will decide what to do with this information.
5) If you are called or questioned by police, do not say anything to them until you have been retained by an attorney, and unless that attorney is physically present with you at the time of questioning. If you have not yet been arrested by police, you are usually free to leave any place where you are being questioned. The exception to this is if you are being temporarily detained by police. If you feel unsure what the police are doing, then ask them directly whether or not you are being either arrested or detained. In either circumstance, SAY NOTHING until your attorney is present. Even if you are arrested, you are not obligated to tell police anything other than your name, address and date of birth. Offering up additional information beyond that, will not help you. Leave it to your lawyer to answer or not answer any further questions.
I hope this outline has helped somewhat. If you need any further information about this subject, contact our office for a free consultation. We’ve been at this a long time.