Facing First-Time Criminal Charges?
In West Virginia, facing any type of criminal charge carries dire consequences. Financial setbacks — fines, court fees, and lawyers’ bills — are unavoidable. For many, jail time is inevitable unless you have an experienced attorney on your side.
Moreover, the establishment of a criminal record may prevent you from finding employment. Government entities and private firms alike have strict prohibitions with regard to hiring individuals convicted of certain crimes.
Yet first-time offenders often have options that can keep their records clean. Retaining a knowledgeable lawyer is a key step to exercising such options. Serving the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, the attorneys at Scales Law Office have more than 30 years of combined experience protecting the rights and reputations of individuals facing criminal allegations.
Common Mistakes Individuals Make When Facing Criminal Charges
Many individuals incriminate themselves unnecessarily. The following are a sample of mistakes that are often made, but easily avoided:
- Agreeing to warrantless search and seizure — The police are prohibited from searching your home or vehicle without probable cause or an appropriate warrant. Many allow the police to enter and search their property, anyway. This can have detrimental consequences when it comes time to go to court.
- Making voluntary statements — The right to remain silent is important to assert. Individuals often fail to realize when they are making incriminating statements, and it is essential to have a lawyer on-hand to ensure your rights are protected.
- Making phone calls from jail — These are recorded and, like voluntary statements, can be used against you in court
- Agreeing to samples of bodily fluids, fingerprints and or clothing — The police are adept at gathering evidence, and will use whatever means they can to build their case. Without a warrant, however, they cannot take samples from your person, and it is in your best interest not to give them permission to do so.
What A Lawyer Can Do For You
In addition to helping you avoid mistakes, a lawyer can actively endeavor to keep criminal activity off your record.
Individuals with no history of criminal activity can, if charged with a relatively minor offense, petition for a pretrial diversion. This is a court program in which criminal charges are dismissed or reduced after the individual serves a period of probation. While any violations during the probationary period may result in a conviction, this is an excellent option for individuals seeking to have their charges reduced or dismissed.
Even if pretrial diversion is not available, a lawyer can be essential to reducing the charges an individual may face. At Scales Law Office, we examine every aspect of the allegations against our clients. If a procedural error has been made at any step, we will find it, and seek to have the case dismissed. Moreover, we have developed a reputation for aggressiveness and effectiveness in the courtroom, and are always prepared to defend our clients’ rights — and their clean records — at trial.