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Facing a Criminal Charge

A criminal charge is a formal accusation made by a governmental authority asserting that somebody has committed a crime. A charging document, which contains one or more criminal charges or counts, can take several forms, including:

  • complaint
  • information
  • indictment

The charging document is what generally starts a criminal case in court, but the procedure by which somebody is charged with a crime, and what happens when somebody has been charged, varies from country to country.

Any person who is facing a criminal charge, no matter how minor, will benefit from consulting a competent criminal defense lawyer. Even if the lawyer is not retained to provide representation in court, a consultation will help a criminal defendant understand the nature of the charges filed, available defenses, what plea bargains are likely to be offered, and what is likely to happen in the event of conviction.

Although being charged with any crime is an extremely upsetting experience, it is important that you stay calm during this situation so as not to exacerbate it. Getting legal counsel should be your first priority, as your lawyer can help give you a realistic understanding of the situation and ensure that you do not unwittingly give up any of your rights. If you are already in jail, your lawyer may be able to assist you with getting your bail reduced or even allowing you to be released on your own recognizance. It is important not to discuss your case with law enforcement or people you know in order to avoid accidentally incriminating yourself.

If you are under investigation for a crime, your attorney should be present during ALL questioning. Investigators often tell potential defendants that their attorney is not required for the ‘preliminary questioning’ or the ‘routine questions’ involved in a ‘routine investigation’. However, the answers provided by you to those questions often become evidence at a trial. If you are being investigated and you have retained an attorney, you can tell the investigator that you refuse to answer any questions until your attorney is present. If you have not hired an attorney, then you should ask for the time to do so.

When it comes to deciding whether or not a criminal lawyer should be contacted, remember that no matter what your intelligence or background, the legal system is set up such that it is virtually impossible to represent yourself in a criminal matter.

To protect your rights, you should always consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. When you retain the West Palm Beach law firm of Andrew D. Stine, P.A., you don’t simply retain a nationally recognized criminal defense lawyer. You retain a criminal defense team who has worked together for years and has successfully represented clients in virtually every type of criminal case.

If you are accused of a crime in Florida, call the law firm of Andrew D. Stine, P.A. at (561) 832-1170.

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