Not all challenges or situations we face in life have roadmaps on how to best face them and overcome them. The following is my attempt at sharing a few road signs that might be helpful to you if you find yourself taking this unfortunate path. They are in no way a substitute for legal advice.

“Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law” That is a part of the Miranda rights that are read to you before an arrest or interrogation. You might have heard these words many times in movies. The shock and fear of being placed in handcuffs or the situation might make you numb to what the Miranda right mean. But understand that whatever you say at that point, however out of context it might be, or said, as a part of a larger story, will be used by the prosecution against you and only against you.

If you are innocent, believe you are, or you have an explanation, your first reaction would be to explain yourself. In your mind, silence could be in some way admitting to guilt. It is NOT. It is by far the best thing you could do for yourself.

Fight any urge you could have to speak with the investigators, without the advice of an attorney or before speaking to an attorney. The interrogators will use tricks and your emotional reactions against you to get you to react and unknowingly admit to statements that could hurt you. To protect yourself from this, you must rightfully remain silent.

By far the best advice is to not put yourself in a situation that would require you to have Miranda rights read to you. If you are in a situation in which you are seeking legal counsel, your only option is to live within the reality of whatever was said at your interrogation.

After you are charged and processed, your next step is seeking representation. If you can do this yourself, make sure to research possible attorneys. If it is a referral, don’t pick an attorney just based on the referral, but look into cases he/she has dealt with in the past and if you feel comfortable with your attorney, who at that moment is going to be a complete stranger you would have to open up to and be 100% honest with, in regards to your actions that led to your current condition.

Working with your attorney, your relationship must be one based on trust. Your attorney needs your 100% honesty, however difficult it might be to admit your weakness and actions, it is vital you do so so that he/she can best assist you.

You and your attorney are a team at this point. You are not outsourcing your case, while he/she will handle legal strategy, his/her actions are led by the choices you make and the information you provide. it’s up to you to provide him/her with the necessary information that could be helpful. In today’s world, with information at your fingertips its best for you to do your own research and be informed about legal terms, strategy, norms, and your own defense.

Be honest with yourself. Your motives and your thinking, unless provable have very little impact on your case. It’s ONLY provable facts that play a central role in your case. So, you must be honest with yourself about the advice your attorney gives you and what the provable facts of the case are. Once that reality has set in, it’s up to you and your lawyer to strategize, to get the best possible outcome for you.

Follow the advice of your lawyer. If he/she is a competent lawyer, he/she will always explain the options and the facts that support the choices your attorney is asking you to make. You can do your own research and make sure that the advice has sound rational, It’s important that you trust your legal advice, and know that your attorney is legally bound to do what is in your best interest.

Your choices have implications not only for yourself, but others around you, it’s important that the choices you make are made after speaking with those who are affected by these choices.

In my own experience, my interaction with the legal system was my first. Having never gotten into any type of disciplinary issues in school or college, it was scary, shocking and an immensely stressful experience. Surround yourself with loved once, family and friends. They and even your attorneys can provide some comfort to you. But don’t go seeking emotional support in your legal team, they work in a fact-based reality, and you are best served by them providing you with unbiased legal advice. Their support to you is in the way they work for you and assist you.

It is a difficult complicated process that might not always be fair. Your actions are responsible for your current situation. Own that reality. Work on the best possible outcome and what you can do to make a negative event in your life have a positive impact. Realize what choices you have made.

Whether you are convicted, acquitted, or the charges are dropped, this experience will have serious repercussions and an impact on you, it’s up to you to try and make it a positive one, however difficult it might be.

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