There are very few things that are more uncomfortable than finding out that there is an outstanding warrant for your arrest or receiving a notice in the mail informing you that there is a pending criminal charge against you. The first thing you should do after being informed is maintain your composure and set a plan to verify the information:
- Is the charge related to something you may have been involved in, for example, was there an accident that was not reported or were you, or somebody you were with, involved in some other activity that might have been reported to authorities?
- Once you have determined what it might be or, if you know already then you should contact our office and speak to me directly before you call a police agency, investigator or any other law enforcement official. Please do yourself a favor and make sure that if you are contacted by law enforcement about a possible charge against you or a family member, even one that you have been told is under investigation or being looked into, or if the officer or investigator wants to question you about an incident it is always a good idea to ask him or her for contact information and politely inform the caller that you will call back as soon as possible–you should then contact me or another experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss the situation no matter how innocent you, or the person(s) you care about, believe you, or they, are. This can’t be emphasized enough. Many police “investigations” or “inquiries” only turn into criminal charges after a well intentioned person, who believes they’ve done nothing “wrong”, agrees to speak to law enforcement officials before consulting a knowledgeable attorney. Most people in law enforcement know that they may be contacting you at an inconvenient time and everyone needs to know that any time that contact with law enforcement is initiated by law enforcement officials (and not you) is an inconvenient time because you surrender control of your environment and have not taken time to prepare for such a conversation.
- If you receive a notice from a court and it appears legitimate, you can see if you can access the court’s website for case information or call the court to confirm what the matter concerns and the time, date and possible fines and costs associated with the charge–remember court personnel cannot provide you with legal advice or even tell you what happens in most cases so try to keep your questions to the basics; when must I come in?; where do I report?; will I be expected to pay anything to the court on that date? After such a call to the court, contact should be made with a knowledgeable attorney to find out what the charge or charges mean and what possible consequences or outcomes might result from the charge(s).
At the Law Office of Marshall S. Tauber we make it a policy to advise most potential clients who have received notices of a warrant or pending charge or investigation to come in for a brief discussion of what might happen, both good and bad and what can be done to affect the outcome. It never hurts to be informed.