Charged With Assault: What To Do Next
Finding yourself behind bars for assault is a serious issue. What you do from here on out will affect how your case proceeds and the final outcome. Make the right moves by reading below.
Ask for a Lawyer
It can be a shock to be arrested and many defendants are too confused to know what to do when that happens. However, speaking to law enforcement is a bad idea. You are entitled to legal representation and having a lawyer with you during questioning will mean you won't incriminate yourself, which is extremely damaging. One common issue is that defendants who are innocent of the charges believe they are doing the right thing by agreeing to answer questions without a lawyer present. Law enforcement may even attempt to intimidate you into talking about things by insinuating that you shouldn't need a lawyer if you are not guilty. Unfortunately, that type of thinking gets innocent people convicted of assault crimes often. Everything you say can be used against you in court, so take these steps:
- Provide your name or other identifying information to law enforcement.
- Ask for a lawyer right away.
- Refuse to answer questions by repeating that you want a lawyer as many times as necessary.
- Be careful of what you say while in jail or on the phone. Nothing is private in jail and snitches will use anything to improve their situations.
Obey the Rules
If you are released on bail, take the conditions seriously. You may be warned not to contact the alleged victim for any reason. It can be tricky if you live with the victim, however. Have your defense attorney arrange for you to go to your residence and gather some belongings for the time being. You may be accompanied by a law enforcement officer when you visit, and the victim should not be in the home at the time.
Other important rules include appearing at all court dates, checking in with court officials regularly, not carrying weapons, and more. If you disobey any conditions, you will be arrested again and will face additional charges.
Use Care with Plea Deals
You are likely to be offered a plea bargain, but some deals are not necessarily bargains. Speak with your defense attorney about the offer and find out what could happen if you decide to pursue the court case. Don't plead guilty to something you did not do if you can avoid it but be wary of what the state has in evidence against you.
Speak to a criminal defense attorney to find out more about this topic.