If my 20 year old stepdaughter was arrested over on felony drug charges, when should we talk to a criminal lawattorney?

She said she let someone else use her car and when she went to pick it up they arrested her. She says they were pills. She goes in front of judge tomorrow morning. We don’t have money right now. We want to help but need advice.

Asked on November 27, 2011 under Criminal Law, Washington


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You should have her speak to a criminal defense attorney ASAP. If money is an issue, she may qualify for a PD (public defender). If she is not eligible to get one appointed, then you can try Legal Aid or see if they can recommend somone to help. Many times your state's department ofSocial Services can be of assistance in providing if the names of local attorneys. You can also contact the county/city bar association(s) and obtain a list of attorneys who handle such cases "pro bono" or for a small fee (depending on income eligibility, circumstances, etc).

The fact is that an experienced criminal defense lawyer can be instrumental in getting the case dismissed, the charge reduced or winning an acquittal at trial. And if the charge is reduced, they can also be of great assistance in negotiating lesser penalties. If this is her first offense, she may be offered an alternative sentencing program known as "diversion"; this will enable her to be left with a clean criminal history records.

Again, she should speak with an attorney as soon as possible. If she must appear tomorrow without one, have her plead "Not Guilty". Then ask the court about a public defender.

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