Clients often wait to retain us until they are actually indicted. Many times, however, had the client come to us when they first became aware they were under criminal investigation they might have avoided indictment all together or, at least, been in a better position to defend themselves once they were indicted. Just as it is important to see a medical doctor before it is too late, it is important to be proactive about a criminal investigation.
1. Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney Early
For example, if hired early, a criminal defense lawyer can conduct his or her own investigation while the facts are still fresh in the minds of potentially favorable witnesses. Likewise, they can interview potential co-defendant’s before the co-defendants hire their own lawyers and become “off limits.” Time and time again, we have seen the testimony of witnesses undergo subtle changes after they are interviewed by law enforcement officials, therefore, it is often extremely helpful when the defense is able to interview these witnesses and “lock in” their statements before they are interviewed by law enforcement officials.
2. Avoid an Indictment
Likewise, if hired early on in the process, a lawyer can determine what steps you should take in an attempt to avoid an indictment. A lawyer can counsel you on whether it is wise to meet with the police or government agents and can be present at any meeting. A lawyer can also determine if it is wise to hire a polygrapher. While “lie detector” tests are usually inadmissible at trial, they can be presented to prosecutors or law enforcement officials along with other information in an attempt to persuaded them not to pursue criminal charges.
Indeed, by putting together as much information as possible, it is sometimes possible for an attorney to convince law enforcement not to pursue criminal charges in the first place or to convince prosecutors not to seek an indictment. Even if prosecutors cannot be convinced to drop the charges completely, they may be persuaded to pursue less serious charges.
3. Grand Jury Presentations
Also, in many counties in Texas, lawyers can make a presentation to any grand jury considering your case and present witness statements and alike to the grand jury in an attempt to convince the grand jury not to indict you (in other words return a “no bill” on the indictment). At Broden & Mickelsen, we have been successful in making presentations to grand juries that have resulted in grand juries not indicting our clients or indicting them on significantly reduced charges. These clients were often facing very serious charges.
The bottom line, is that, by retaining a lawyer early, you may save significant money and stress down the line. It is less costly and much less stressful to be proactive and attempt to avoid an indictment in the first place than to fight criminal charges at a full-blown jury trial.
Simply put, if you learn you are being investigated and potentially facing criminal charges, you should contact a lawyer IMMEDIATELY. Most lawyers do not charge for initial calculations, so you really have nothing to lose by being proactive.