In almost 100% of criminal prosecutions, a police report will be filed before the prosecutor’s office makes a formal accusation. If someone files a police report accusing you of something, you could take a wait-and-see approach – many times, police reports are filed but no charges are ever brought against anyone. But instead, at the first sign of trouble, you should hire an attorney.
There are plenty of reasons to get an attorney at the first sign of trouble, before you are formally charged with a crime. First, your attorney can give you great advice right away. The first piece of advice many lawyers give to their clients is “Don’t talk to anybody about this!” This is often very difficult advice to hear; you have your own side of the story about what happened, the media might try to contact you, the police will want to get your statement, and your family and friends will want to know if the allegations are true. But following your attorney’s advice from the start can keep you out of trouble later.
Another good reason to hire an attorney at the first sign of trouble is that your attorney can begin an investigation sooner, rather than later. Are there video or audio recordings of the alleged incident? Are there witnesses? Does your accuser have any reason to lie? A prompt investigation of these questions can produce important evidence that could help you at trial, or even be used to convince the prosecutor to not file a case in the first place.
You should hire an attorney at the first sign of trouble – be proactive, rather than reactive. Otherwise, you will just be sitting around, waiting for the other shoe to drop.