Six Things Not to Do If You’ve Been Accused of a Federal Crime
1. Try to convince the arresting office that you’re innocent.
In the heat of the moment, you may think you can get a police officer to “be on your side.” But the more you talk, the more potential damage you can do to your case. You may inadvertently say something that can later be held against you. Even innocent admissions may come back to haunt you. Also, you are not going to be able to convince the officer to “let you go.” Remember your Miranda rights: “you have the right to remain silent” and “anything you may say may be used against you.” Take these rights to heart.
2. Resist, yell at, argue with, or run away from local police or Federal Agents
Assaulting a police officer or resisting arrest can lead to criminal charges — even if you’re innocent of what you’re being arrested for. Bumping or pushing a police officer can get a simple misdemeanor charge jacked up to a felony charge, which is much more serious. Running away is also a big no-no. First of all, there’s almost no chance you would escape. (And what would you do next if you did?) Second, the police might use extreme measures — including weapons — to bring you under control. And do nottell the officer that he does not have probable cause for the search!
3. Allow the police to consensually search your automobile or home
Without a warrant or probable cause, officers in general may not conduct searches without your consent. It is your constitutional right to refuse a search of your home or automobile by Federal agents or local or state police officers. Whether or not you have something to hide is irrelevant.
4. Ignore court orders.
Fail to show up to a scheduled hearing or act inappropriately at court, and you can be held in contempt. Your defense can get much more difficult.
So dress well for court appointments, show up on time, and in general be composed about what you say and how you handle yourself. Simple acts of courtesy can make a more substantial difference than most people realize.
5. Be satisfied with a public Defender – or choose to defend yourself.
When you stand accused of a federal crime, knowledge is power. If you do not understand the federal criminal system and its rules, you can easily make errors that can cost you dearly. An experienced, credentialed, and strategically focused attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice system to good effect. Furthermore, an attorney of your choice is going to pay a lot more attention to you and your case.
6. Rush to make a decision about who should represent you.
Most people who stand accused of federal crimes want to get legal help right away — as well they should. But in their zeal to find an attorney, clients often choose inappropriate counsel. Ideally, you want someone who has lot of experience with federal cases, someone who has successfully handled cases like yours in the past, and someone with whom you have a good rapport.
I represent people charged with Federal Crimes, and have been doing so for many years. What I have told you is a result of the mistakes made by others. I hope you are able to learn from their mistakes instead of from your own.