Accused of a crime? What are the immediate steps to take?

By Douglas N. Engelman

Anyone can be charged with a crime at any time. But the steps that you take as soon as you are contacted by the police can make a world of difference in the final outcome of your case.

The police can arrest someone after the person is charged with a crime (police have a warrant) or when they have suspicion of a crime (person is brought in for questioning). Once you are in police custody, you have the right to speak with an attorney. This is your first opportunity to help your case. Having an attorney with you during questioning helps you immediately. Innocent people often believe that they don’t need attorneys because they have nothing to hide. But unfortunately, innocent people can sometimes say the wrong things under the stress of a police interrogation. Calling for an attorney does not make you look guilty; it’s the smartest move you can make to protect yourself.

Here are some DOs and DON’Ts when you’re accused of a crime.


  • Remain silent when approached, even if the investigator is asking seemingly casual questions. It is your right to refuse to speak with the police.
  • Be respectful and polite while awaiting your attorney.
  • Indicate that you want to have an attorney present before speaking with law enforcement.
  • Consider social media. Investigators routinely use social media to find suspects and learn details. Some people use poor judgement, like the criminal hiding from police who “checks in” at a local bar, or the person who brags about a theft by posting a photo of the stolen goods. Other details aren’t as obvious; photos can provide proof of relationships, your “friends” can lead investigators to people who may be able to provide testimony against you, and any comment you make can be used against you in the right circumstances.
  • Work with your attorney to honestly discuss the facts of the case, and your expectations for the outcome.
  • Ask your attorney to carefully explain your charges, and the potential outcomes associated with each charge.


  • Agree to a police interview “just to see what they want.”
  • Begin an interview without an attorney present.
  • “Cooperate” by allowing a search of your property without a warrant, or by providing DNA samples, fingerprints, or other evidence that could be used against you.
  • Discuss the case with anyone you meet in police custody, or even with your friends and neighbors once you return home.

How We Can Help

By retaining an experienced attorney, you can ensure that you are treated fairly by law enforcement. If you have been charged with a crime, Contact us today to discuss your options


140 East Third Street, Williamsport (570) 323-3768
320 Market Street, Lewisburg (570) 522-0505
Northern Tier Pennsylvania (570) 673-4081
(800) 422-5396
Contact us today!