Felonies are the most serious crimes you can commit, resulting in harsher sentences and fines than misdemeanors.
Here are ten steps you need to take if you are charged with a felony.
1. Exercise Your Fifth Amendment Rights
When you’re arrested, you have the right to remain silent. If you’re innocent of the crime you’re charged with, it might be tempting to try and explain the situation from your perspective. However, even if you’re being wrongfully charged, it’s best to wait to speak until you have an attorney at your side.
Anything you say once you’ve been arrested “can and will be used against you.” Being arrested for a felony is stressful and can feel overwhelming, but it’s essential that you remember it’s in your best interest to stay quiet.
2. Stay Polite and Calm
When something as drastic as a felony arrest has occurred, staying calm can be incredibly difficult. The reality is, though, that being rude and argumentative will only work against you.
Even if you believe you are innocent, you should never resist arrest. It’s essential that you do not act aggressively and that you comply with the orders of the police. Resisting arrest or being violent towards an officer will likely result in more charges.
3. Contact an Attorney Right Away
After you’ve been taken to the police station, the first thing you want to do is contact an attorney. This is the most important step in defending yourself against a felony charge.
Having an attorney can help you understand what your rights are so that you do not make a mistake that leads to your conviction. The prosecutors and the police are actively working against you. It’s essential that you have a criminal defense attorney on your side.
4. Be Honest With Your Attorney
If you are caught up in a felony offense charge, you might be tempted to change the story to make yourself more favorable. However, you aren’t doing yourself any favors if you don’t tell your criminal defense lawyer the entire truth.
Your attorney needs the most accurate information in order to properly prepare for your case. Remember, anything that you share with your lawyer is confidential.
5. Understand the Felony Offense You’re Facing
Understanding the nature and magnitude of the charge you’re facing is incredibly important. Many people don’t understand the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor. If you’re convicted of a felony, the penalties will be more severe than in the case of a misdemeanor.
Even after you’ve served your sentence, a felony conviction can lead to you losing certain rights. You may no longer have the right to own a firearm or vote. You may no longer be eligible for certain professional licenses or military service.
6. Speak to an Attorney Before Posting Bail
It’s common for people to post bail for a loved one immediately after they’ve been arrested. What you should do instead is consult with your criminal defense attorney before posting bail.
An attorney will review your case and determine whether or not there is a high likelihood that the bail will be lowered or if you can be released without posting bail. They’ll also be able to consult you as to whether or not the charges will be dropped during the arraignment. In this instance, you could be released without posting bail within only two or three days.
7. Write Down Everything You Remember
As time goes on, the memory of exactly what happened during an incident can fade. If you’ve been arrested for a felony, you should write down everything you can remember after the event. This includes who you were with, where you were, what happened, what time it was, and the details of the arrest.
8. Make a List of Witnesses
In addition to your statement on the details of the event, you’ll want to give your attorney a list of witnesses who might be able to testify on your behalf. Write down anyone who might have seen what happened along with their contact information.
In addition to witnesses of the alleged crime, you can also provide your attorney with a list of character witnesses. These are people who can attest to your good character.
9. Don’t Miss Any of Your Scheduled Court Proceedings
If you fail to appear at a court proceeding, you are stacking the odds against yourself. While there are instances, such as suffering from poor health, where a court might allow an attorney or another individual to be present in your place, in general you never want to miss a legal proceeding.
10. Avoid Discussing the Arrest with Friends and Family
While you should be completely honest with your attorney, you may be putting your case at risk if you divulge information to your family and friends. If your felony lawyer talks about legal theories with you, don’t share this information with those in your social circle and family.
Anything you say to colleagues, friends, or family could be used against you in court. If the prosecution chooses to interrogate those close to you, you’re in a much better position if you’ve kept your silence.
One of the Most Important Steps You Need to Take if You Are Charged with a Felony: Lawyer Up
If you’re being charged with a felony, you should obtain legal representation right away. Look to the knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorneys at Tyack Law to defend your case today.
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