Tahlequah Attorney BlogWhen’s the Best Time To Hire an Attorney in a Criminal Case?

As Soon as Possible

Video Transcribed: When’s the best time to hire an attorney in a criminal case? Well, as soon as possible. Hi, my name is Ryan Cannonie. I’m an attorney in Tahlequah. And I sometimes have calls from potential clients that say, I’m about to go to a preliminary hearing, or I already had my prelim.

I’m thinking about trial and I want to get an attorney and that’s just red flags all over the place when I hear that because I don’t know what’s happened before in the case. Any attorney’s going to have to be coming in after so much of the work you could’ve set for the foundation of either trying to knock some of the charges down or negotiations with the other side. It’s already past. You can’t go back in time and do that.

And so a lot of times people say, well, and when I say people, I say, I have friends who say, hey, when should I think about getting an attorney? I got a speeding ticket the other day, or hey, I got a DUI. Should I go ahead and go to my first appearance? Do I need an attorney now?

Should I just wait? All these types of questions. Most people don’t deal with the court system as much as lawyers are lucky enough to. So there’s a lot of questions about the system and when someone should retain counsel. Now I am biased because attorney. But I think you should get one as soon as possible. And there’s a couple of reasons for that. First off, if you get one as soon as something happens, if there are follow-up interviews, follow-up investigations, then you have someone to kind of help lead you through it.

A lot of people fall into the trap of thinking they’re smarter than the cops that are investigating them. And they think they can just go in there and win one over on Barney. And that’s not always the case, especially when you’re looking at trained investigators. And especially after McGirt, there’s a lot more going into some of these investigations now than there has been at different places in the past. So even if in the past you went in and it was no big deal.

Well, you may not be dealing with the same type of person now. You may be dealing with instead of a fresh out of academy officer, you may actually be dealing with a seasoned investigator because now both the tribes and the federal prosecutors want someone with more experience submitting charges to them.

There are a plethora of reasons out there as to why you probably want to have an attorney with you during these interviews. Not a minor concern is actually informing you of your rights, letting you know when to shut up. Because a lot of people just get in there and talk. It’s a really good tactic and it’s good and I sometimes used to adjunct professors like teach. And so it was a good tactic there. It was a good tactic as an attorney.

It’s a good tactic for a law enforcement officer to ask a question and then just get quiet. The anxiety that builds from someone staring at you, or just kind of doing their own paperwork stuff or writing something down while it’s quiet is overwhelming when you’re in a silent single little room across the table from them. And people will just start talking. They like to talk to fill the air so that there’s something out there and you never know what they’re going to say.

Having an attorney there can have a second cooler head about you just being like, whoa, stop, let them ask their questions. Don’t just volunteer things. So that’s a reason you might want an attorney upfront. Another reason is something a lot of people aren’t familiar with and I’m going to make another video about this so kind of watch for that.

But a deferred prosecution agreement, and I’ll go more into the other video as to what these are, but long and short of it is deferred prosecution agreement will allow you to do kind of pseudo probation with the DA’s office, pay a fee for it. But you can work it out so that they never actually file the charges against you. Now, these are not going to be used in most felonies. This is a lot of times a misdemeanor type thing.

If you don’t have any real prior history, if say your kids get in trouble, let’s say they get a publican talks or they get something. A lot of times DA’s offices are willing to do what’s called the deferred prosecution agreement. Now here’s the thing about those. I was a prosecutor for seven and a half years. Some DA’s offices that I worked in were fine.

We would dismiss the charges after they were already filed. Do the DPA’s, what they’re called. Do the DPA. A lot of offices have a policy just because of the caseload they’re dealing with that once something’s filed, you don’t dismiss for a DPA. So if you want one of these or even want the option of asking for one of these, you have to get in there early and you have to get in to talk to the prosecutors before they actually file the case. So that’s a situation there. So be aware of that.

Now, what are some other considerations you might want to have an attorney upfront? Well, when you have a situation that happens, an attorney can help you with your narrative on it. A lot of times people are not that great at storytelling. And so they’re talking about something over here when they should be talking about this, and there’s no line of reasoning and chronological order to their story. Attorneys can help you say, okay, well, what happened?

Well, I was pulling up to the red light and then I started thinking about, I wanted to go to Braum’s. And then I thought about Braum’s and I thought about milk and if I was out of milk. That’s all irrelevant information. It’s how some people’s minds work in stories, but it’s throwing out just way too much information. It’s not getting to the facts.

If your kind of all over the place like that, an attorney can help maybe streamline your story. I was pulling up to the light and then I saw a red car pull up next to it. They ended up, they were supposed to stop. They ended up not stopping. Unfortunately, they came across and hit me.

An attorney can help you streamline that. An attorney can also help you whenever you’re drafting statements or your own personal injury type of statements there for law enforcement. These are all things attorneys can help with if you get an attorney early in a case.

Now, if you get an attorney after a preliminary hearing, after you’ve already had your arraignment after you’ve already been given plea offers, they can’t go back in time and fix any of that. They can’t go back and say, hey, let’s do a DPA after you’ve already filed when your office has a policy of not dismissing to give DPA’s.

So that’s something to consider when looking at attorneys and when you should get one. I know the expenses are primarily on people’s minds. A lot of attorney’s offices, including my own here, will work with people on payment plans. So try to find someone that’ll work with you. Because it’s always better to go in with an attorney than without.

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