Not unlike most Sundays I woke up yesterday to several find messages on my cell phone from perspective clients who are in need of criminal legal representation in court today. Someone needed a lawyer for a domestic assault and battery case out of Lowell. Another person wanted to hire me for a cocaine possession charge out of Plymouth. Someone else needs help for an OUI arrest from Saturday night in Woburn. This is all typical for a Sunday morning. There was however something unusual my answering service sent me. A client who was served with a restraining order ten days ago has a hearing in Lynn District Court tomorrow. This prompted me to blog about why waiting until the last minute to hire a criminal lawyer is not a good idea.
Give Your Lawyer Enough Time To Adequately Prepare Your Defense
Good criminal defense lawyers want to be prepared to address a judge or prosecutor an informed manner. They want time to investigate the validity of the allegations their client is facing no matter what stage the proceedings are in. For example, summons arraignments typically notify the defendant of an arraignment date a couple of weeks in advance. Criminal lawyers hired early might be able to provide information to the district attorney that will result in a dismissal before arraignment. Or perhaps a prosecutor concerned with fairness might agree to continuing the arraignment so that you can demonstrate why charges never should have been filed.
If a case needs to be tried or motions need to be filed and argued your lawyer will want to meet with witnesses, visit the crime scene and view evidence to best defend you. All of this takes time and getting the lawyer of your choice engaged early in the process facilitates these efforts. Probation violation hearings can be won if your lawyer has time to show that you were in compliance with the terms of your probation or by giving him time to meet with your probation officer and negotiate a resolution. Waiting to the last minute is never in your best interests.
At a Minimum You Should Consult With a Lawyer Immediately to Protect Yourself
In the Lynn restraining order case the defendant was told by the police that he would not need a lawyer at the hearing and that the case would go away. So, the client decided to go alone until he panicked over the weekend when a friend told him to call me. Had he been more diligent with the effort I would have been able to get a copy of the restraining order application affidavit before the hearing. This would let me know if I needed to call witnesses or have my investigator meet with the complainant to see what she is alleging against this man. From this story readers should take a couple of things away with them. One, don’t rely on advice from police officers where your rights are involved. Their purpose is not to help you with criminal problems. Two, at the very least consult with a criminal defense lawyer anytime you think you might have a criminal legal problem. Most criminal defense lawyers in Massachusetts will give you a consultation. It will be time and money well spent. You can reach us at 617-263-6800. We can talk to you now.