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How Early Should I Seek Counsel if I Hear of an Allegation?

Criminal defendants generally don't want to spend money on an attorney until they know that they are the target of an investigation, and many even wait until they are officially charged with a crime before engaging legal counsel. Unfortunately, the best advice that an attorney can offer is often during the investigation phase. In Northern Kentucky as well as elsewhere, the most powerful tool that an investigator has available is a confession or other admission by the Defendant. While it may be easy to ascertain that a conviction is likely if a Defendant admits to the crime, what may be less obvious is that any statement may be used against the Defendant if the case proceeds to a trial. The true confession is not as rare as a reader may think and Defendants confess for a variety of reasons. Most confess because of promises by the investigative officer that they will go easy on them if they tell what happened and admit their involvement. What a defendant does not know is that the decision to "go easy" may not be up to the investigator if the prosecutor or the judge view the crime differently.* What may appear to be an innocuous question may turn out to be the lynch pin to a conviction. A simple mistake is difficult to explain away if the case proceeds to trial. For example, assume that you are being investigated for a breaking and entering charge and the officer asks if you have any burglary tools. You answer "No." as you have never purchased burglary tools and you were not involved in the crime. A standard search warrant later reveals that you own a screwdriver, hammer, and small sunglass screwdrivers, as well as gloves and a satchel. The accused may have not thought of these items as "burglary tools" however to an investigator and likely to a jury, it is what they are. In addition, you have either misled or lied to the officer about facts relevant to the investigation. Even if you testify at trial, there is now one additional piece necessary to explain away. Nearly all criminal defense attorneys will agree that the more explanations increase the likelihood of conviction. No matter how small, each thing that requires an explanation makes the defense that much more difficult. Moreover, the attorney can provide a barrier between the police investigator and the accused. Regardless of the reason, the simple statement that "my attorney told me to remain silent" is accepted more than simply asserting the right to remain silent. If you are the target of a state, local or federal investigation, you should discuss your case with an attorney as soon as possible. Retaining an attorney is in your best interest. If you have questions, concerns or wish to schedule a consultation, contact Michael Bouldin at [email protected] or call at 859-581-6453. *That said, the investigator may very well have an influence on the prosecutor, judge and the ultimate outcome of the case.

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