I’ve Been Charged With a Crime — Now What? Essential Things You Should Do If You’ve Been Charged With A Crime


For some, it’s an unfortunate but unavoidable fact: You’ve been charged with a crime. Or, you fear, you’re going to be charged with a crime. Either way, the magnitude of these circumstances can cause you to experience all sorts of emotions, which, in turn, can lead to reactive behaviors that could seriously jeopardize your future.. This can be an overwhelming feeling, but you need to be rational, and you need to take measures that will ultimately protect the well-being of you, your loved ones, or that of your business and colleagues.



You have the right to remain silent. Use it.

Exercising your Fifth Amendment right helps you avoid incriminating yourself while you find legal counsel and begin building a defense against your charges. If you’ve been placed into custody, we recommend remaining calm, and respectfully declining to answer any non-biographical questions until you’ve had time to speak with your lawyer.


Do not consent to a search

Never consent to a search without first seeking counsel from a lawyer. Whether it be your person, your home, car, or office, it’s essential that you calmly, politely, and definitively respond no when the police want to request a search.  If police begin a warrantless search or if they have a search warrant, do not resist a search, as your behavior in these situations can color your case in unfavorable ways.


Understand your Miranda Rights

Miranda Rights pertain specifically to the protection of an individual who is in police custody and is being questioned by the police. If you haven’t been taken into police custody, then you don’t have to be read the Miranda warning.  The inquiry of whether you are in police custody is a complex one and depends on a variety of factors. Any potentially incriminating information shared during this time could be used against you. If you can ask the officer if you are free to leave. If you are told “Yes,” then leave immediately and contact your attorney. If you are told “No,” be polite but don’t share any non-biographical information whatsoever without having your attorney present.


Find legal representation — and do it now

This is, without a doubt, the most important you should do, so this is where we’ll be spending most of our time. You’ll be tempted to do all sorts of things if you’ve been charged with a serious crime, and while they’re all likely in the spirit of self-preservation, there’s nothing more important than finding experienced and reliable legal representation — and doing it as soon as possible. Listen, you’re not just an average citizen any longer — you’re a defendant. That requires counsel with a skill set beyond your own.


Not only will an experienced criminal defense attorney help you navigate the complicated pathways of the US legal system, a good criminal defense attorney understands the authority a prosecuting attorney possesses in these situations, including whether or not you’re even charged in the first place. A good defense is one that is studied, nimble, and prepared to provide you a guidance that will lead to the best possible outcome.


More than someone who will be adept at working with prosecutors to get you the best possible deal should you require one, your defense attorney should also be someone that can help you maintain a realistic perspective of what is possible for your case, and, should your case go to trial, help you cope with the stress and anxiety that comes with the that process, hire investigators, interview witnesses, and, perhaps most importantly, spend the sort of time on your case that simply no one else is going to. You likely have work and family responsibilities that require your attention, and, frankly, are probably healthy distractions for you while your case is tried. Their professional objectivity allows them to roll up their sleeves and do great work on your behalf so you can focus on the next chapter of your life. And, of course, your conversations are protected by attorney-client privilege. Speaking of…


Don’t speak to anyone about the details of your case

Remember, the conversations you have with your lawyer are protected by attorney-client privilege. Your conversations with your family and friends, however, are not. Seriously. Any information you share with them that pertains to your case could potentially be used against you, so you need to be extremely careful in who you share any information with. That said, confidential communication between spouses is considered privileged in the states of New Jersey and New York, though not all communications — so be careful and follow the advice of your counsel.


Your attorney is here to help  — be honest with them

If the information your defense attorney has at their disposal isn’t the most accurate information (i.e., you’re not being completely honest with them), then that hinders their ability to provide you the best possible defense, thereby increasing the chance of an outcome you don’t want for yourself. We understand that it can be difficult to open up to a person who isn’t a loved one, or that you might even be afraid to share all of your information with your lawyer, but this will help them defend you, and, of course, all of your conversations are protected by attorney-client privilege.


Don’t panic. Stay calm. Be polite.

We’ve already mentioned this once or twice, but we need to reiterate it because it is important: remaining calm and behaving politely when you’re in police custody is one of the smartest things you can do. And it’s not necessarily easy. Being accused of a crime is serious, and often scary business, and can be especially frustrating when you’ve been accused of something you believe you’re innocent of. The authorities in these situations can be intimidating and sometimes even aggressive can, so keeping your cool is a high priority. Remember: You behavior in this phase of an investigation, if not handled appropriately, can lead to additional charge or resisting arrest. Contact your attorney and wait for them to provide you the best advice and direction.


Contact a New Jersey White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are under investigation or have been charged with any white collar crime in New Jersey, criminal defense attorney Robert J. DeGroot is ready to meet with you. For a free initial consultation, call 866-970-0783 or contact our Newark law firm online.

If you are incarcerated, our criminal law attorney can meet with you in jail. Reach out today, because we’re here to help!