Criminal defense attorneys are a lot like doctors. People come to us when something is not right, and with our skill and knowledge, we strive to attain the best outcome. Much like a doctor, it is best to visit a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
When To Hire An Attorney
Posted By Eric Matheny
When someone is arrested on a felony charge, the police will write up a report, charge that individual with whatever they think is the proper charge, or charges, and transport that person to jail. With a misdemeanor, the police report, or arrest affidavit is the charging document. If the officer wants to charge you with criminal mischief, for example, then that's what you will be charged with. With a felony charge, however, the arrest affidavit is not enough. Both the Miami-Dade and Broward State Attorney's Office have intake units - divisions of prosecutors and paralegals whose jobs are to take sworn testimony from witnesses and officers, examine evidence, and decide whether there is sufficient evidence to file felony charges. This process usually takes 21-30 days from arrest. Those days, however, are crucial.
Imagine you start feeling sick but decide to wait a month before visiting a doctor. By that point, you are in far worse condition than you would have been had you visited the doctor a month ago. Same applies when facing criminal charges. As a defense attorney practicing in South Florida, I find the intake process to be a window of opportunity. It allows me 21-30 days to speak with the prosecutor before charges are even filed, as well as provide information that may mitigate, if not eliminate, the pending charges.
Without an attorney working for you from day one, you are putting yourself at the mercy of the prosecutor and arresting officer. The intake prosecutor begins going through the motions of speaking to witnesses and filing charges. These intake prosecutors interview many witnesses a day on many separate cases. Your case may not receive the attention it deserves. Remember - police officers often overcharge cases. What should be a simple misdemeanor may be charged as a felony. Without interference from a South Florida criminal defense attorney, that intake prosecutor may go ahead and file that felony because they have no other information available that would cause them to do anything different.
The point is - getting arrested is the first painful symptom of a potentially dangerous disease. The "wait-and-see" approach is not a good rule to follow when facing the possibility of jail or prison time. When you, a friend, or a family member are arrested, you should immediately seek out the advice of a criminal defense attorney. Those precious days from arrest to arraignment may give the attorney the time he or she needs to get your charges reduced, or even dismissed. Contact my law firm immediately upon arrest, and give your case the aggressive defense it needs.