The Legal Process Before You Get Arrested in Utah
Many think the legal process begins at the point of arrest. However, in most cases that is not accurate. The legal process begins when law enforcement begins to suspect some type of criminal conduct. In a traffic violation case, that usually means when the officer sees you violating the traffic code. In serious cases, it could mean when an alleged victim reports being victimized. In a serious drug case, it could mean an extensive investigation that takes months or years to get to the point where an arrest takes place.
This is the best point for my clients to get me involved. When I have a client come to me who suspects they are the target of an investigation, it gives me an opportunity to manage the entire case in a way that benefits my client. All options are on the table at that point.
By comparison, clients who wait until they are arrested to contact me have most likely lost out on some of the opportunities to guide the investigation and case. More importantly, they have probably hurt themselves by talking to investigators and consenting to searches.
A lot of people who are the target of an investigation will talk to law enforcement because they hope to learn something about the investigation. The old adage that curiosity killed the cat comes to mind. Officers are trained to play their cards close to their vest and most people reveal more than they learn.
The better practice is to contact me and have me gather as much information as possible. As your attorney, almost anything I say to an investigator is second hand and therefore inadmissible in court. Even if I end up with firsthand knowledge, judges are generally hesitant to allow the prosecutor to call the defense attorney to the stand to testify against their client. There are also privileges that apply that protect even firsthand information from being disclosed.
When clients wait to contact me until they have been arrested, I often think to myself, “What is done is done.” Interviews often have been conducted. I can seek to have your statements suppressed at trial but I cannot reverse the clock and block the interview from happening in the first place.
Similarly, searches have been conducted. I can seek to suppress the evidence but I cannot go back and rewrite history. The search happened and the evidence obtained must be dealt with.
Often these things can be avoided. Often charges can be avoided.
The better practice is to contact me the minute you believe you are under investigation. Even better, if you have done something that could be construed as a violation of the law contact me so we can assess the situation before law enforcement gets involved. We can then decide what steps to take to protect you.
Other advantages to getting me involved early is that if it is clear that an arrest is imminent, I can manage the arrest by arranging a surrender and book. Often release can be arranged ahead of time avoiding having to pay costly bail fees. Where that is not possible, bail arrangements can be made ahead of time so you are immediately released on bail once the booking process is completed.
Still another advantage of having me involved early is that in certain cases, it is in your best interest to assist law enforcement with their investigation. In those situations, I can manage communications with the investigator so that you don’t incriminate yourself or prematurely give away information that the investigator wants.
Even the defendant who has been caught dead to rights has lots of options available early in the process if he contacts me. Certainly, such a defendant is going to receive more consideration during plea negotiations and more leniency at sentencing where he has conducted himself civilly and professionally.
A well-managed arrest can go a long way in establishing that bail should be set low because you are not a flight risk. Conversely, consider the negative impact of a mismanaged arrest that involved resisting arrest, hiding out, or fleeing. Bail will certainly be set much higher in those instances.
My message should be clear. The earlier you involve me in the process the better it will be for you. Don’t wait and hope it all blows over. If you are aware of an investigation, chances are slim that it will just go away. You need an attorney right away.
If you are under investigation and not represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney, you are not in control of your life. You have no way of knowing whether an arrest warrant has been issued and if the police are coming to arrest you. You don’t know whether they will serve the warrant late at night.
It is not uncommon for arrest warrants to be served on a family home late at night. Often this creates a dangerous situation that can put you and your family at risk of physical and psychological harm. Frequently children who experience their parent being taken away by officers who use an arrest warrant to break into a home late at night with weapons drawn experience PTSD like symptoms.
You also won’t know if you will be arrested at your place of employment. The police may want to arrest you there if they believe an arrest in your home would pose an unnecessary danger. Unfortunately, your job may be lost.
If you are under investigation but hesitate out of a concern for cost, you should still call now. It is much cheaper to hire me to talk with the investigator than it is to pay me to file motions and conduct hearings to suppress evidence once it has already been obtained by law enforcement officers. It is also a lot cheaper to hire me to manage an arrest than it is to get fired from your job because the officers showed up at your job to take you into custody.
A Special Note for Utah County Residents
If you are under investigation by any law enforcement agency in Utah County, please be aware that the practice in that county is to hold persons who have been arrested for up seven days after the arrest before they will be charged.
The practice is that you will be given a bail hearing but no opportunity to have an attorney there to represent you. You will sit in jail for seven even eight days before you see the judge. It is especially important that you contact me before you are arrested.
I am particularly troubled by this practice in Utah County and I prepared to take decisive action to get you out of jail if charges are not filed within 72 hours of your arrest. You are entitled to representation at every stage of the proceedings and that includes a bail hearing. Unfortunately, Utah County is playing fast and loose with the Constitutional right to counsel.
To hire a Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer, call us today – (801)-895-3143.