If you are facing criminal charges in Illinois, including for a DUI, you may not know where to turn next. Illinois criminal law can be complicated, and the penalties upon conviction are too serious for you to try and handle the case on your own. Even if you do everything right, the criminal process can still be unforgiving. If you take missteps during your case or do not know all of your rights or options, you can receive results more serious than you deserve. At Martin & Kent, LLC, our knowledgeable legal team can explain to you the do’s and don’ts of criminal cases and can safeguard all of your legal rights while your criminal case is pending in the Illinois court system.
Hire a Skilled Attorney
The first thing you should always do if you find yourself facing criminal charges is to hire an experienced lawyer to represent you in your case. When you are in the process of retaining a lawyer, you should always ask the lawyer about his or her experience level. You also want a lawyer who has experience defending the type of charges involved in your specific case.
Cease All Social Media Posts
Everyone likes to post pictures, videos, and status updates on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms. However, when you are facing Illinois criminal charges, you do not have the luxury of posting anything and everything on your social media accounts. This is because anything you post on social media is potentially up for grabs by the prosecutor handling your case. He or she may try to use anything from these postings in court at your criminal trial.
For example, if you are alleging that you have never been to the location of the alleged crime, but your Facebook profile shows you checking in to that location multiple times in the future, a prosecutor may use that information to challenge whether you’re being truthful.
Ask About Potential Penalties
When you are in the midst of Illinois criminal proceedings, you should always make sure that you fully understand the nature of the criminal charge—including whether that charge is a felony or a misdemeanor. In addition to knowing the crime classification, you must also be aware of the potential penalties should you plead guilty or should a jury convict you of the offense.
Explore Potential Defenses and Other Options
A good legal defense can often offset criminal charges. If your lawyer asserts a good defense on your behalf in court, you may be able to obtain a complete dismissal of your charge and of your entire case. Some criminal charges, however, are not defensible, no matter what the circumstances are. A judge may be bound to order a prison sentence. If that is the case, your criminal defense lawyer will work to help you obtain the shortest sentence possible in your circumstances.
In other instances, you may have more legal options available to you. For example, you may be able to obtain a period of criminal probation, allowing you to rehabilitate yourself without suffering the negative effects of a criminal conviction on your record. In other cases, your lawyer may be able to convince a sentencing judge to issue you a fine or community service opposed to jail time.
Never Volunteer Information
Under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, you have a right against self-incrimination. When police first arrest you, it might be tempting for you to chime in and try to relate your version of events to the police officer or investigator who is peppering you with questions. However, you should refrain from doing so until after your attorney is present. If you decide to forge ahead and volunteer information outside the presence of legal counsel, that information can be used against you at trial in order for the prosecutor to obtain a conviction against you.
As soon as a police officer or investigator begins asking you questions about your case, you should politely decline to answer these questions, invoking your right to remain silent, and you should insist on the presence of legal counsel before answering them.
Keep Your Cool
When you are dealing with police officers and investigators, it is always best to keep your cool and remain calm at all times. Yelling at, screaming at, or becoming belligerent with a police officer will only escalate the situation and could subject you to additional criminal charges—especially if you assault the police officer.
By the same token, if you decide to take your criminal case to trial, you should remain calm and confident while on the witness stand and while others testify against you, and act respectfully toward all lawyers, judges, and courtroom personnel who are involved in your case. You should also make sure that you show up for all court proceedings properly dressed and on time. If you fail to do these things, a judge could hold you in contempt of court. Your attorney can advise you on what you can expect at court.
When it comes to retaining legal counsel to represent you in a criminal case, you should not waste any time. Even an experienced criminal defense lawyer needs time to meet with you in order to discuss the facts and circumstances of your case and to begin preparing a legal defense to your criminal charge.
Moreover, if you show up to your court hearing or trial without a lawyer representing you, a judge could theoretically make you move forward with your case without having a lawyer present. For practical purposes, however, most criminal court judges can grant a continuance under those circumstances and allow you the time you need in order to obtain legal counsel to represent you in your case.
Call a Wheaton and DuPage County, Illinois, Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Case
If you are facing criminal charges in Illinois, you should take immediate steps to seek out legal representation. The knowledgeable legal team at Martin & Kent, LLC can help you assert the best possible legal defense in your case. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with an experienced Wheaton and DuPage County, Illinois criminal defense lawyer, please call our free 24-hour hotline at (630) 430-8000 today.