Wiki Crime Law: Frequently Asked Questions
Do You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney?
With the possible exception of your happening to witness a traffic accident, you need a criminal defense attorney whenever any law enforcement agency wants to ask you a few questions or take your statement whether it is on the street, at your home or down at the station.. Even if you did not do anything wrong, and they tell you that you are not a suspect you have to think about the fact that what you say could lead to you being wrongly accused. Believe it or not, many people are wrongly accused and wrongly convicted. Even more people are charged with and even convicted of crimes far more serious than what they actually did . Always politely state that you want to speak with an attorney before answering any questions. If you can't afford an attorney you may have to wait until you are actually accused of a crime and brought to court before an attorney will be appointed for you. What you don't say in the meantime can't hurt you. What you do say can! Only an experienced criminal defense attorney can evaluate whether it is in your interest to make a statement.
Don't let an attorney who doesn't normally handle criminal matters assist you in a criminal matter. Ask for a referral to a criminal defense attorney or find one on your own. Don't shop for the cheapest attorney. Highly qualified lawyers are relatively expensive because they limit their case load in order to give every one of their cases the attention it deserves. Beware of attorneys who charge you by the appearance except in very low level misdemeanors. If you can't afford a good attorney you are much better off with the public defender's office.