I Have Been Charged with a Crime; How Soon Should I Hire a Lawyer?
By Nathaniel Pitoniak on July 2nd, 2020 in
Hire a Criminal Lawyer in Houston Now
In virtually every case, the sooner you hire a criminal defense attorney after being charged with a crime—or even when you think you are the subject of a criminal investigation—the better off you will be. When your attorney is on board right from the beginning, he is better able to build a solid defense on your behalf. Having a criminal defense lawyer in your corner early on ensures you do not inadvertently say the wrong thing to the police or other law enforcement agency. It is easier for your Houston criminal defense lawyer to properly represent you when they are on your case from beginning to end.
Very often, individuals believe they can somehow “explain” their side of the story in a way that will protect them but find themselves very disappointed in the outcome. Remember this: police officers are trained to extract information from you and, once they have your statements on the record, they absolutely will take those statements and use them against you, even if that means taking your words out of context.
Law enforcement may lie to you in the interests of furthering their investigation. That means that if a police officer tells you “If you will just tell me what happened, we can all go home.” What the officer means is that he or she can go home—not you. The goal is always to coerce you into incriminating yourself and making their job that much easier. Never, ever, think of law enforcement as your friend when you are under investigation for a Houston criminal offense.
Understanding this is an extremely stressful time for you, consider speaking to Houston criminal defense lawyer Nathaniel Pitoniak. Nathaniel will ensure your rights and your future are protected, to the extent possible. Nathaniel will build a defense on your behalf, using every avenue to secure the best outcome possible for your Houston criminal charges. You can help attorney Nathaniel Pitoniak do his job, by calling him as soon as you have been charged, or even sooner if you know you are under investigation.
The average person does not have a full understanding of the law, and it is not a wise decision to speak to law enforcement without first hiring an attorney. Remember, you are given the Miranda Warning for a reason—it is important that you take your rights seriously and remain silent until you have a chance to speak to Houston criminal defense attorney, Nathaniel Pitoniak.
What Are the Top 4 Reasons Why You Should Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
When a person is under investigation for criminal activity or when they are being charged with a crime, one of the most critical decisions is whether to seek assistance from a lawyer. Understanding the motivations behind hiring a criminal defense attorney can help ease the stress of this decision.
1. Navigating Court Procedures
Every case requires that a specific set of court rules and procedures must be followed. In criminal cases specifically, failure to adhere to these procedures can result in devastating consequences. As a defendant in a criminal proceeding, every action and statement that you make will be scrutinized.
A criminal defense attorney will ensure that all potential legal pitfalls are avoided, and that all paperwork is completed and submitted according to court rules and procedures. Navigating the strict deadlines, case documents, and other complexities of the judicial system is not easy. For this reason, the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney can be greatly valuable.
2. Settling Before Trial
Facing a criminal charge is overwhelming and stressful, and many individuals are not aware of the full extent of their options. It is possible to settle a case before reaching trial, which can be greatly beneficial. In fact, most cases never reach trial. Data from the federal judiciary supports this – out of the 80,000 federal criminal cases in 2018, only 2% went to trial.
Furthermore, the majority of defendants who went to trial were found guilty. Is no surprise that many individuals charged with a criminal offense wish to settle their case before reaching trial. A criminal defense lawyer can negotiate a plea bargain on your behalf, thus avoiding trial and securing a lighter penalty.
3. Leveraging Relationships
One of the most valuable, yet overlooked, benefits of hiring a criminal defense attorney is their ability to utilize professional relationships to your advantage. After spending years representing defendants in criminal proceedings, an experienced attorney has developed relationships with prosecutors and judges. Being familiar with the individuals who are responsible for convicting you may seem counterintuitive, but it is highly beneficial. Such relationships can be pivotal in securing a better plea bargain or negotiating lighter financial penalties and bonds, for instance.
4. Avoiding Constitutional Rights Violations
It is no surprise that the police and prosecution use a variety of tactics to get you to incriminate yourself during the investigation. Understanding the legal limitations associated with obtaining evidence is incredibly difficult. Handling situations in which law enforcement or the prosecution have infringed upon your rights is even more complex still. A criminal defense attorney can ensure that all evidence is obtained legally and that your rights are upheld at every step of the investigation.
I Have Been Charged with Money Laundering—When Should I Hire an Attorney?
Money laundering falls under the umbrella of “white-collar crimes” that violates both State and Federal laws. The state of Texas will charge money laundering when an individual knowingly handles criminal money, invests criminal money, invests “cleaned” money into a criminal enterprise, or supervises the transactions of criminal money. In short, a legitimate business is used to “launder” money in order to conceal its illegal source. If the money from the criminal activity in question is related to a course of conduct, there may be multiple charges. This could result in significant prison time (two years to life, depending on the amount of money laundered) in the event of a conviction.
As you can imagine, with so much at stake, it is crucial that you have an experienced white-collar criminal attorney in your corner from the very beginning. Waiting until your case is already moving through the justice system is not a good idea if you want the best outcome possible. Houston white-collar criminal defense lawyer Nathaniel Pitoniak can begin building your defense to your charges of money laundering as soon as you hire him, and the sooner he is on your case, the sooner he can determine what evidence the prosecutor has and whether there is a plea deal to be had. As with any criminal offense, it is important that you refrain from speaking to anyone regarding the crime until you have spoken with attorney Nathaniel Pitoniak.
I Have Been Charged with a White-Collar Crime—When Should I Hire an Attorney?
White-collar crimes generally include non-violent criminal offenses, including embezzlement, fraud, extortion, bribery, Ponzi schemes, insider trading, labor racketeering, cybercrime, copyright infringement, money laundering, identity theft, and forgery. Even though these are non-violent crimes, many are charged as felonies under Texas law and have significant penalties. It is important that you contact an experienced white-collar criminal defense attorney immediately once you are charged with a white-collar crime.
It is equally important that you not speak to anyone at all regarding your criminal charges until you have spoken to an experienced white-collar criminal defense attorney like Nathaniel Pitoniak. There are many different tactics attorney Pitoniak can take that will affect the final outcome of your white-collar criminal charges, and the sooner he knows what evidence the state or federal government has against you, the better able he is to defend against your charges. Far too many people fail to take white-collar criminal charges as seriously as they warrant—do not make this mistake. Contact Nathaniel Pitoniak today.
I Have Been Charged with Assault-Family Violence – When Should I Hire an Attorney?
More commonly known as domestic violence, assault-family violence is a criminal offense under Texas law. Chapter 22 of the Texas Penal Code sets forth three situations in which an individual can be charged with assault-family violence. These include:
- A person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily harm to a person’s spouse or partner
- A person intentionally or knowingly threatens their spouse or partner with bodily harm
- A person intentionally or knowingly initiates physical contact with their spouse or partner that can be interpreted as offensive or provocative
Under this definition, domestic violence is more than inflicting injury on a spouse. A person can be convicted of domestic violence for threatening violence or if their spouse believes that violence was imminent. For this reason, it can be quite difficult to gather evidence and navigate assault family violence charges.
While the latter two situations are considered Class C misdemeanors, these charges may be increased to a felony charge later if family assault occurs again. Cases in which injury is inflicted on a spouse, however, can result in either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances of the case. In Texas, public records such as employment background checks indicate whether a person was arrested for assault-family violence.
It is essential to seek legal assistance from a criminal defense attorney at the onset of a domestic violence investigation. Doing so can help ensure the lowest possible charge and avoid potential jail time. The Law Office of Nathaniel Pitoniak has successfully navigated a variety of assault-family violence cases for our clients and our experience allows us to work through even the most complicated situations.
I Have Been Charged with a Sex Crime—When Should I Hire an Attorney?
Most criminal accusations come with a presumption of innocence, however, accusations of a sex crime can result in an immediate judgment by family, friends, the community at large, and, of course, law enforcement. Even though many of these cases based only on the accusation of the alleged victim with no corroborating evidence, once an allegation of sexual misconduct is made, the alleged victim is likely under significant pressure to stick to the original story. Contacting a Houston criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible following charges of a sex crime is the most important thing you can do following an allegation.
Criminal defense lawyer Nathaniel Pitoniak can ensure you take your right to remain silent seriously while he gathers and preserves evidence that could potentially be lost with the passage of time. Attorney Nathaniel Pitoniak will work with the District Attorney’s Office to ensure all exculpatory or mitigating evidence is presented prior to charges being indicted when timing permits. Having a strong legal advocate to fight false allegations of a sex crime can help you clear your name in ways nothing else can. Aside from the social stigma you will face after being charged with a sex crime, you could face extremely serious penalties should you be convicted of a sex crime, including a significant prison sentence, steep fines, and you could be required to be on the registry for convicted sex offenders.
I Have Been Charged with a Drug Crime – When Should I Hire an Attorney?
There are a variety of drug crimes that a person can be charged with in Texas. Understanding which activities are illegal is essential, as many people may assume they have not yet committed a crime when, in fact, they have. Examples of drug crimes in Texas include:
- Distribution and delivery
- Possession with intent to distribute or manufacture
- Drug paraphernalia
- Driving while intoxicated
- Drug conspiracy
The penalties associated with drug crimes depend on many factors, such as the Schedule of the drug involved, the amount of the substance, and the type of activity taking place. Texas law recognizes six different drug penalty groups that a person can be placed in depending on the crime that they were found guilty of. Drug crimes are taken seriously under Texas law, and penalties for these crimes can include jail time, steep financial penalties, or both. The Texas drug penalty groups include:
- Penalty Group 1 and 1A: A minimum of 180 days in prison and a maximum of life in prison, as well as fines of up to $250,000. The severity of these penalties depends on the quantity of the drug.
- Penalty Group 2 and 2A: Provides for similar jail time as group 1 and 1A, with a $50,000 maximum fine. If the person is found guilty of possessing more than 400 grams, they may be sentenced to life in prison.
- Penalty Group 3: Minimum of 180 days of jail time and a maximum of life in prison, in addition to fines.
- Penalty Group 4: Similar penalties as group 3.
It is never too early to hire a criminal defense attorney if you believe that you are being investigated for drug crimes. There are several defenses that a skilled attorney can use to avoid or lessen the penalties associated with drug crimes in Texas. Moreover, there have been many instances in which evidence must be thrown out due to illegal procurement by law enforcement or the prosecution. The Law Office of Nathanial Pitoniak understands how to navigate such issues, ensuring that your case is handled with justice and fairness at every step.
Attorney Nathaniel Pitoniak Will Fight for Your Rights
Whatever criminal offense you have been charged with, Nathanial Pitoniak has the experience, skills, and knowledge to fight for your future and will do everything possible to ensure the best outcome possible following your charges. Contact Houston criminal defense attorney, Nathaniel Pitoniak, today for a free consultation.