If you've been accused of a serious crime, the first thing you should do is contact a lawyer or trusted legal advisor for help. He or she will know best about the laws and procedures in your area or be able to help you seek the help needed. However, here is some general advice to help you better understand what evidence matters most as things progress from someone simply yelling, "I'm going to sue you for this!" to actually having charges drafted and ultimately getting your day in court.
Legal threats are no joke. Despite this, many people use this threat to intimidate someone that they disagree with. That's why ultimately I hope you are reading this before that happens. Those first few moments are the most critical since the evidence is clean and your memory is fresh. By gathering evidence immediately you can save time, money and emotional stress later in the process.
There are some steps that you need to take as soon as possible. First, you should hire a criminal lawyer to help you navigate the legal system. Taking too long to hire a lawyer is risky because waiting can make it hard to gather the evidence that matters most in criminal cases.
While your lawyer will handle the investigation of your claims, there is some evidence that you can begin to gather right now. Here are some of the most important pieces of evidence, and why it matters that you either collect them now or get the contact information to pass on to your lawyer.
Witness Statements and Testimony
Statements from witnesses who were at the scene of the incident (or those who were with you when it took place) are important to winning your case. Juries take the testimony of witnesses seriously because their position feels less biased than that of the people who are directly involved in the case.
The problem is that most people don’t have perfect memory. When witness statements aren’t taken quickly, the details may change or the witness may be too unsure to testify.
If you know any of the witnesses to the crime you’ve been accused of, make sure that you save their contact information for your lawyer. Make a list of other witnesses who might have information. For example, if you were involved in a road incident on a busy street, consider calling businesses on the street to find out if any employees witnessed it from inside.
For juries, seeing is believing. It is hard to counter direct video evidence, so it can be very useful to have video evidence that exonerates you. This is why it is so important to have a dashcam on your car and why you should always have cameras recording your property. That should make things easy. Out in public though, things are more complicated. Even though many businesses have security cameras, the data preservation policies can be inconsistent.
Video footage takes a significant amount of space to store for a long time. Only a few days of camera footage from multiple angles can eat up a terabyte of space. Many businesses won’t pay for the server space they’d need to keep footage for more than a couple weeks.
That means you need to make requests for video evidence as soon as possible. Some may only provide it if the court requests it, but that’s something your lawyer can handle. Just make sure the request is on paper as soon as possible.
Photos, Diagrams and Schematics
While video evidence of the crime, or lack thereof, can be powerful evidence - so can photos or even diagrams and schematics. For instance, photos of the site of an accident can reveal things such as an estimated speed based on tire marks. Diagrams can help ensure that your story stays consistent throuhgout the process by recording exactly how you perceive what happened.
If the crime is something such as trespassing, property records and schematics of where objects are located can also help support (or weaken) your case.
Financial Records / Receipts
Most people will pause when asked to describe where they were and what they were doing at a specific time, on a specific day. Yet, the law expects you to be able to honestly account for your whereabouts. If you aren’t honest, even accidentally, it can be used against you. That means you may have to say that you don’t know your exact whereabouts at a given time, which may also be used against you. Fortunately, there is one way that you can get an exact timestamp and location. Using receipts and digital bank records, you can map your day to precise locations.
Make sure you save ANY receipts you have. If you pay in cash, you may not be able to get another copy of the receipt if your first one is lost. Also, make sure you check your bank statements for items that verify your location.
Telemetrics From Your Phone or Car
Most people don't think about this, but your mobile phone, as well as many cars, are constantly recording data about you, your actions, where you have been and how long you've been there. They do this primarily for ad tracking purposes as well as to help social media apps. However, the information from these sensors can be important evidence if you are accused of a crime.
Have Evidence Ready for your Lawyer
Having this evidence ready can make things easier if you didn’t contact a lawyer immediately. However, your lawyer can collect this information a lot more efficiently.
If you’d rather contact a lawyer immediately so that these steps can be performed by professionals, you can find some options if you click here. Your lawyer will be able to help you identify and find other evidence that you can use to confirm your location or prove forgotten parts of your schedule.