Steps to take if you’re ever charged with a felony
Irrespective of the type of crime you’re being charged with, a felony is never to be handled with levity – be it rape, murder, robbery, manslaughter, assault felony, burglary, or grand larceny of a vehicle. As a criminal offense charge, a felony carries the possibilities of long prison time, loss of professional licenses, hefty fines, sanctions, and restrictions that can affect one’s present and future endeavors.
Once convicted with it, it is almost impossible that you can do anything to lift whatever punishment is leveled at you.
But who said your case has to get to the stage of conviction? Who said you have to endure the harsh punishments and consequences that come with felonies? Remember, that you’re charged with a felony doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to get convicted for it. In fact, if you know the right steps to follow, you can avoid all or reduce some of the potential punishments.
Without much ado, here are the simple steps you need to take if you are ever charged with a felony.
Try to remain silent
More often than not, you’ve probably heard cops saying the following words in movies, “you have the right to remain silent…” But have you ever wondered what those words truly meant? Well, strange as this may sound to you, those words are being said to you to protect you from incriminating yourself.
When you’re being charged with a felony, you might be tempted at first to prove your innocence by trying to make your points and present your evidence. But the last thing you want to do at that point is anything close to that. If anything at all, the Fifth Amendment gives all of us the right to refuse to incriminate ourselves in a criminal case.
Even if you’re being dragged into custody and questioned by cops, always try to remain silent, because you never can tell what the information you give or the worlds you say will be used for. And the best way to avoid incriminating yourself is to remain silent. Once they throw any question or query at you, politely decline to answer and insist that you will not utter a word until your lawyer is present.
Remain calm, composed and polite
Once you’ve exercised your right to stay silent, the next line of action is to remain calm and composed. Even though it can be very difficult for anyone to stay calm and composed when charged with a felony – especially when you know that you’re genuinely innocent – the last thing you want to do is argue with the law enforcement agents.
It is true that some agents or cops can be quite scary and intimidating when they approach suspects, but you still need to maintain a perfect composure whenever they come to question or arrest you.
Under no condition should you argue with the cops or resist an arrest, because, while this might seem like the best thing to do at the time, it doesn’t help your case in any way. If anything at all, it makes you look guilty in the eyes of the cops and could even result in other additional charges being filed against you.
Contact your attorney immediately
Often regarded as the most crucial step in the fight against a felony charge, the timing of your call to an attorney can either make or mar your chances of winning a case. Although one might become so engrossed in the heat of the moment that they forget to contact their attorney, the single most crucial step in the process of defending yourself against a felony charge is to contact an attorney.
If, as at when you are accused of a crime, you don’t have a criminal defense attorney at hand, you should look to hire a very good one immediately. Remember, every single minute you spend in the custody of the cops without an attorney pleading your case hurts your case.
The reason for this is that the prosecutor will know all the technicalities of the law that you may not know, and most of all, they will know how to sell you on agreeing to a plea bargain that will seem like your best option. But when you hire your own attorney, they will even the playing field for you, and will protect you from taking what seems like an easy deal when it is likely not in your best interest.
Understand what you’re being accused of
Strange as it may sound, many people don’t even understand the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony. Due to the absence of this knowledge, many people don’t even understand the severity of the crime they’re being charged with.
Typically for a misdemeanor, the punishment is always a time in the county jail, a fine, or a mix of both. But for felonies, the punishments are quite severe.
It is important that you understand the specific felony charges that you face and the severity of those charges so that you can know just how serious you have to handle the case.
Do not post bail
A very bad step that people often take is posting a bail for a loved one once they hear they’ve been arrested, without first speaking with a criminal defense attorney. This is a very bad act, one which doesn’t really help the case of the accused.
A good practice would be for you to first speak with an attorney on behalf of the accused. The attorney will help you determine whether bail will likely be lowered or possibly have your loved one released without having to post bail. Furthermore, the attorney will also review the facts of the case and tell you whether there is a chance for the charges to be dropped at the arraignment. If that were to be the case, the accused would be released from custody without posting bail.