I'm continuing on in the Red Flag blog post series, and today am focusing on red flags in government investigation and prosecution cases (for the introductory post to this series, click here). In this post, I'll highlight some of the areas that I consider "red flags," meaning that these are areas in which particular attention should be focused by those that are under investigation by law enforcement or another government agency, or who have already been charged with a crime. The loss of freedoms and liberty, the imposition of probation or jail time, fines, and other sentence components handed down by a Judge can have a significant impact on your life and on future opportunities. To that end, the first red flag is not treating these investigations or charges as serious, because they are.
Second, another red flag is procrastination. We've all likely heard the saying along the lines of, "why do something today that can be put off until tomorrow?" That's procrastination at its core. And procrastination in government investigation/criminal defense matters can hurt you. The sooner that you hire a lawyer to help you, the better things will likely be. Over time, memories fade, it can become difficult to track down witnesses, evidence can be destroyed, etc., and other opportunities can be wasted. Putting off having someone help you in your case is a big red flag that should get your attention, and your response.
Third, operating under mistaken (bad) assumptions or beliefs is a big red flag. I recall a time I was sitting in court and observed another person in court - without a lawyer - receiving advice from a friend with respecting to resolving a criminal charge. The friend was apparently counseling the person to handle the matter in a certain way, which would, he believed, then allow the person to come back later and get things changed to resolve the case in a more favorable way. The problem was, both of these folks were seemingly operating under mistaken assumptions or beliefs about how the criminal justice process worked in Georgia. My point here is this: make sure you're getting accurate information to help you deal with the issues - seek the help of a lawyer. Don't operate under bad or mistaken information.
Finally, the last red flag I'll discuss today is working against your own interest. If you're under investigation or have been charged by the government, consider exercising your right to remain silent. Talk to a lawyer first before you talk to the government. Be careful about what you communicate about the situation to others through phone or email, through facebook, twitter or other social media, or even with in-person conversation. Things you say can be used against you, and sometimes it is best to just be quiet and get help.
This isn't a complete list of red flags in this area, but serves as a good starting point for today's discussion.The bottom line is simple: if you've been charged with a crime, or are under investigation by the government, the absolute best thing that you can do is to get a lawyer involved to help you.