If you're acting as a witness for either side in a criminal matter, you may want to lawyer up. People often are surprised to learn that a witness could use the support of a criminal law attorney. However, there are several solid arguments for witnesses retaining counsel.
Proximity to Crimes
Police and prosecutors often don't have a clear picture of what happened when they tackle a case. Consequently, they tend to think of potential suspects in terms of proximity to an alleged crime. By definition, witnesses are often quite close to defendants, locations, evidence, and other parts of a case. In other words, it's not hard for cops or prosecutors to jump to the conclusion that a witness might be directly involved with the crime.
Similarly, some defendants are looking for ways to cast doubt on cases. One possible way to deflect allegations is to point to a witness as the possible perpetrator.
Bear in mind that no one is obliged to say they think you're a suspect until charges come down. Hiring an attorney now can give a witness a leg up against possible allegations.
Even if you didn't participate in a crime, a prosecutor may decide that you were part of an effort to conceal what happened. Some prosecutors play hardball and threaten witnesses with obstruction charges. They do this when they're not getting the testimony they want. By holding the threat of obstruction or perjury charges over witnesses, the prosecutor is trying to squeeze a little more out of them.
Do not assume that the truth will be your shield in criminal defense law. Hire an attorney to protect your interests.
Both sides in a case sometimes have incentives to go after witness testimony. Once more, the defendant's criminal defense team might want to make it sound like someone else did the crime. Also, defendants' lawyers may want to accuse a witness of lying to poke holes in the state's case.
The prosecution has similar motives at times. If a witness presents strong testimony on behalf of the defendant, the prosecution may want to make the witness not look credible. In extreme cases, this could create criminal exposure for the witness.
Finally, witnesses often want privacy. Working through a criminal law attorney allows witnesses to be less public about their involvement. A lawyer can guide them through the process of providing testimony without being too visible. Especially if a case is in the news, this can make life a lot easier.
Contact a law firm like Cohen Law Offices, LLC to learn more.