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This month we have been looking at ways to protect yourself and your family when charged with a crime in Minnesota. Many of these ideas may be common sense; other suggestions will be from cases that we have dealt with over time. The main point being that you can’t trust the guy at the bar, someone you run into on the street, or a random post on Facebook for criminal advice. You need to talk to knowledgeable attorneys that understand the law and how to best protect your rights.

If you are charged with a crime, the best action you can take is to stop talking to people around you—that includes the police officers. Anything you say to another person, including the police can and will be used against you to charge you with a crime. Police officers are known to carry audio recorders and may be taping you as soon as they make contact with you. Get to a lawyer who can explain your rights and make sure you are protected. Tell the police officer you want to cooperate with him/her, but don’t want to say anything until your lawyer is present.

If you are asking the question “do I need an attorney,” then you need to talk to one. We don’t charge a fee for people to go over their initial questions. Our firm is available to answer your questions 24 hours a day. We will take the time to sit down with you and discuss your options, even in the early morning hours.

When you are criminally charged, time can mean everything. You must pay close attention to important dates. There is your first appearance where you will need to go and deal with the initial charges in front of the judge. This is where bail and/or conditions of release will be set. The court also confirms that you are the person they mean to charge and that the court has your current address. Depending on the crime charged, you may face time limits that require you to act quickly. For example, in a DWI case, you only have a certain time limit to challenge your license revocation. We have met with far too many people who come to us after certain time limits have run, but by that time, it is too late for them. It is better to get to a lawyer who understands what the time limits are and will ensure they are met.

What does it cost to hire a lawyer? The answer depends on what you are charged with and what can be done for you. The initial consultation is free and once we determine what needs to be done we will be able to quote you our costs. Exercise caution in hiring the cheapest lawyer or the lawyer that quotes a price without knowing your criminal charges. In most cases, you will get what you paid for.

Does it make a difference if I hire a lawyer? It is tough to say without knowing more about your case. There are some situations where people can deal with their cases by themselves. It’s worth sitting down and having your questions answered. We will tell you if we can’t help you or if hiring someone is a waste of your money.

The police want to talk to me. What should I do? There are many cases that we see where people think they are better off to talk to the officer. Unfortunately, their conversations only made their case worse. Some officers try tricking people by using cleverly worded phrases because they know most people want to get stuff off their chest. That is why it’s worth calling a lawyer and understanding your rights. We have helped many clients through their initial discussions with the police. The difference was that we were there and that the clients had a better understanding what they had to do and what they did not have to do.

I was stopped a long time ago has the case gone away? We are sure that there are times when cases slip through the cracks. But, the reality is that due to back logs it is not usual for your case to take a while before you actually receive a ticket or complaint. The BCA may be doing testing or there may be investigations taking place. Take advantage of the extra time to contact a knowledgeable attorney that can answer your questions and inform you about the time limits the police have to charge you with a crime.

Is there anything that I can do to lesson my sentence before I go to court? Sometimes it does make a difference if a person has gone to treatment or taken steps to rectify something that has happened. If you haven’t talked to someone that understands the consequences of your charges, you may just be guessing what work should be done. Take the time to talk to a knowledgeable attorney about your options as soon as possible so that you have time to fulfill the requirements before you appear in front of the judge.

What do I bring to my meeting with a Lawyer? In most cases you probably don’t have much, if anything. But, if you have the police report or any evidence that you think the attorney may want to look at you should bring it. If the question was asked "I wonder if they want to see this?" The answer is probably "Yes."

It is important when you are charged with a crime in Minnesota that you get advice from an experienced attorney. The earlier you do this, the better chances that all of your options can be explored. At Bradshaw & Bryant, PLLC we have be helping Minnesotan’s with all level of charges from DUI and Drug charges to Homicide and Physical Assaults. We have put the time into court to make a difference for you.

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