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When is the best time to hire an attorney in a criminal case?

The answer to this question is going to depend largely on your particular situation and finances. The best thing to do is hire an attorney as soon as you know there are, or may be, criminal charges against you. This will most often occur when one is arrested. There are situations, however, where law enforcement brings you in for questioning before criminal charges are filed. In these situations it is critical to be represented. Even if you are answering questions honestly, law enforcement likely knows more than they are letting on. If hired before or within 24 hours of arrest, a lawyer can show for first appearance to argue your release from jail or get you an affordable bond.

If you are unable to hire an attorney immediately upon questioning or immediately upon arrest, hiring an attorney before arraignment is the next best time. Before arraignment is when the State speaks with victims and witnesses and determines if there is enough evidence to prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. The State will not talk to you. It is important that you have an attorney talking with the State during this important decision-making period to ensure that the prosecutor gets the entire story and not just what law enforcement presents to them.

There is no deadline in hiring an attorney. You may do so at any time in your criminal case. Between arraignment and pre-trial conferences or case managements is still an acceptable time to hire an attorney. During this time, the State will be handing over discovery to you public defender if you were appointed one. The only time it may be too late to hire an attorney is a week before trial. While nothing prohibits from hiring and attorney right before trial, the lawyer may not have sufficient time to get discovery and prepare for trial. Sometimes judges will give the new lawyer a continuance, but it is not always guaranteed.

At Soler and Slack, P.A., our attorneys have extensive experience with all charges and processes in criminal cases. If you are looking to hire an attorney, at any point in your case, please do not hesitate to contact Soler and Slack, P.A. at (941)444-5128.

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