As a criminal defense attorney in Columbus, Georgia with 18 years of experience representing individuals charged with criminal offenses, I have assisted many people who anticipate being arrested for a crime. Here are four things you should do if you find yourself in that situation:
1. Hire an Attorney: This may seem like shameless self-promotion, but there is no substitute for retaining an attorney who has experience with the criminal justice system. From setting a bond to negotiating a guilty plea, you will need the services of an attorney throughout this unpleasant experience. There are many talented public defenders and court-appointed attorneys in every community, but their caseloads are so heavy that many criminal defendants prefer hiring a private attorney who can make their cases a priority.
2. Consult a Bonding Company: To obtain your release from jail, you will be required to post a bond with the court. Most criminal defendants are not able to post a cash bond and will require the services of a bonding company or bail bondsman. If you anticipate being arrested in the near future, you or a family member should contact a bonding company to process the necessary applications and paperwork, so the bondsman will be ready to obtain your release when a bond is set in your case.
3. Turn Yourself In: Never, ever, run if law enforcement is looking for you. As a practical matter, you WILL eventually be caught. Running from a situation is not a long term solution for what you are facing. Secondly, the fact that you attempted to flee can be used against you in court. It’s very difficult to convince a judge or a jury that you aren’t guilty of the charges if a witness testifies that you were found hiding in the basement of your grandmother’s house.
4. Do Not Speak to Law Enforcement Without an Attorney: You have the Constitutional right to remain silent. Use it. Police officers and detectives are professional interrogators. They question suspects every day. Everything that you admit to is something that the prosecution may not have to prove in court. I have had dozens (if not hundreds) of circumstantial cases that would have been very difficult to prosecute in court except for one problem: My client agreed to be interviewed and admitted to everything. This particular topic deserves an entire blog post. So, just remember: Say nothing unless you have an attorney with you.