If you are arrested, the first thing you must do is clearly state that you want a lawyer. Do not be ambivalent by saying, “I think I need a lawyer” or by asking, “Do I need a lawyer”. Be very clear and state, “I WANT A LAWYER”. Then say nothing else, period.
By law, the police cannot talk with you any further. Even if the police continue to talk with you, say nothing until your lawyer appears. If you initiate the conversation, it can be argued that you waived your right to counsel despite previously requesting a lawyer to be present.
Once arrested and charged in a State case, a bail amount and an arraignment date are usually set. The arraignment, where the accused pleads either guilty or not guilty, could be days or even weeks away. After pleading not guilty at the arraignment, the defense is given a deadline to file pretrial motions, usually 15 days. In serious matters, it is not uncommon to have several motion hearing dates before trial.
In either a State or Federal case, it is highly recommended that you use your resources to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer rather than spend your money on bail. It is better to use your resources to get the best defense available rather than spending your money on bail and not have enough for a good lawyer.
Of course, if you cannot afford to hire private counsel, you will be given a court appointed lawyer but this is not usually the best defense available. It is not that all public defenders are bad lawyers,, it is more that public defenders do not have the time or resources to give you the best defense. Private counsel will almost always provide your best chance for the best outcome.
Ask pointed questions in deciding which lawyer to hire. It is recommended that you consider only lawyers who specialize in handling criminal defense matters. And only lawyers who have handled your type of case before. If the case is in Federal court, be sure to hire a lawyer who is experienced in handling Federal criminal cases. State and Federal court are very different and require an experienced lawyer who knows the system in order to offer you the best possible defense.
Be sure one of your questions in choosing a lawyer is what steps will he take to defend you. Your worst nightmare is to get a lawyer who looks to hastily negotiate a plead deal for you. Pleading guilty should be a last resort, not a way for a quick resolution.
A seasoned, good criminal defense lawyer will thoroughly investigate the facts, including witnesses both for the state and for the defense. They will interview the police, carefully analyze reports, statements and other evidence. To obtain the best possible outcome for you takes a lot of effort and time. Getting the best possible outcome is no accident, it is the result of a diligent hard working criminal defense lawyer.