A "run in" with the law for the average person usually means a traffic stop resulting in a DUI, a possession arrest or some kind of domestic dispute that escalates into more than just a shouting match. There are five things to remember when facing potential criminal charges.

Keep Your Mouth Shut

The easiest question in the world any attorney is asked is "should I answer questions or talk to the police?" Why? Because the answer is always the same. "No." Contrary to what most people believe, there is absolutely nothing you can do or say to the police that will help you. You have a 5th amendment right to remain silent. Exercise it.

Ask For a Lawyer

Once you "lawyer up", the police are no longer allowed to talk to you. If they do, what they learn may end up being inadmissible. Either way, keep quiet and ask for a lawyer from Clark & Clark LLC or a firm near you. Anything you tell your attorney privately is privileged. It can't be used against you. The 6th amendment guarantees you counsel. Use it.

Seek Alternatives

Legal penalties are often harsh, but the government simply doesn't have the money to lock everyone up. First-time offender, suspended sentences and alternative sentencing are three of what are likely many more alternatives to a jail term. Find out what is available and see if any of those alternatives are required by law. Remember, the law is there to protect you even if you break it.

Expunged Record

A criminal record is very difficult to explain to future employers, banks, landlords and finance companies. If there is a way to get your record cleared, that should be one of the first things you seek out if you are facing legal penalties. Often an agreement to expunge your record goes hand-in-hand with first-time offender programs, rehabilitation programs and other legally mandated alternatives to the most expensive option, which is to lock people up.


Legal problems can be tremendously stressful. They can damage your relationships with others and cause enormous psychological problems during the time when you are trying to get things back to the way they were. Don't overlook your own emotional health and well-being. Your ability to get back on track depends on you being able to function at 100% of your capabilities. Find people who can help you learn the best way to manage your stress and emotions. It's very likely the most important thing you can do to help yourself.

All of these options together will dramatically reduce the effects of a run-in with the law on your life. You have rights, and you have many options for getting the help you need to overcome the challenge. Be sure to use them. It will make things much easier in the long run.

Author's Bio: 

A professional content and copywriter who graduated from the University of San Francisco, Anica loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she's used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here.