Witness to wrongdoing may not seem like the first reason to hire a criminal lawyer. The world, however, is an odd and sometimes unfair place, even for folks who feel it's their civic duty to serve as witnesses when crimes have been committed. Here are four reasons why you should consider retaining the help of a criminal defense lawyer if you believe you are or worry you will be a witness.
You Might Become a Suspect
It's not out of the realm of possibility that you may become a suspect. Someone close enough to events to be a witness may have been close enough to be a suspect due to leaving behind physical evidence. A few fingerprints, some hair or a couple of fabric fibers is all it takes for you to suddenly become much more interesting to a police detective or a prosecutor.
The Accused Might Throw You Under the Bus
Casting a shadow of a doubt of the state's case can be a challenge for an accused person. Pointing the finger at someone else, however, might make for a very good start in their own criminal defense. If you're not prepared to push back on accusations, you might quickly become what investigators like to call a "person of interest." Interesting people become defendants all the time, and some of the innocent ones even get convicted.
Not every witness is completely clean. Someone might have witnessed a stick-up because they were buying black market goods, for example. Yes, they're a witness, but they also have exposure on a more minor offense. These witnesses can highly benefit from the services of a criminal defense lawyer.
In the American legal system, some actions are considered offenses against the process. These are crimes like obstruction of justice, witness tampering and destroying evidence.
What makes these allegations scarier is the prosecutors sometimes use them as leverage. They attempt to threaten a witness with a charge on a process crime to push their testimony against someone else. Suppose a mother knew her son was selling drugs out of her house, and she's acting as a witness. For some reason, the prosecution decides she could be more helpful than she has been. Pretty soon, they start talking up charging her because she simply threw out a bag of trash that they say contained evidence. Without a criminal lawyer there to rebut the argument, that scenario can get ugly fast.
If you find yourself in any of the above situations, reach out to a criminal defense lawyer for help.