While most people would say that you should retain a criminal defense lawyer once you are charged with a state or federal crime, the answer is not that straightforward. In many instances, an individual or company will learn that there is an active, pending investigation into their activities. They might be contacted by law enforcement for an interview; they might be served with a grand jury subpoena for documents and/or testimony; they might learn that business associates and customers have been interviewed by law enforcement; they might receive a “target letter” from the U.S. Attorney’s Office; or they might be tipped off by their friendly banker that their financial records have been subpoenaed.

If any of these events occur, the person should immediately seek to retain experienced criminal defense counsel. At these “early” stages of an investigation, counsel often has the opportunity to present facts and arguments to law enforcement why the matter should not be considered criminal in an attempt to prevent charges from being filed.  The attorney must first learn all the relevant, material facts of the matter being investigated from his client. The client must be completely candid and forthcoming when discussing the matter with the attorney so that the attorney can truly assess the situation. The attorney must then review the relevant statutes and case law to fashion his arguments supporting a non-criminal disposition or declination of charges. Lastly, experienced defense counsel must make a determination whether to present these facts and arguments to the investigators, or whether it would be better to hold off and defend the case once the nature of the offense and evidence against the client is known.

When a person discovers that she is the focus of a criminal investigation prior to charges being filed, or an indictment being presented, they have a unique opportunity to try to have their defense attorney convince the investigating agency that there is no sustainable basis to proceed. If successful, the attorney can save the client from the ruinous and costly effects of being arrested, the negative publicity attendant to such an event, and the time consuming and costly post-arrest defense.

Robert Stahl, and his firm, Stahl Criminal Defense Lawyers aggressively defend individuals charged with complex federal and state crimes. Founder Robert G. Stahl is recognized as one of the top criminal defense attorneys in the NY/NJ area for his skills, knowledge and success. To contact the firm, call 908.301.9001 for the NJ office and 212.755.3300 for the NYC office, or email Mr. Stahl at rstahl@stahlesq.com.