In many situations, before someone is actually charged with a crime, they are contacted by law enforcement for an investigation or an interview. If you have already been charged, law enforcement may attempt to question you to gain valuable information to successfully prosecute you. During the course of an investigation, you have rights, and those rights need to be carefully protected.
Don't Answer Questions Without An Attorney
You are not required under any circumstance to answer any question that a law enforcement officer may ask you. Most criminal attorneys would advise that you do not answer questions without a lawyer present. You should be polite and simply explain that you don't feel comfortable answering questions without your attorney present. Many people panic when they encounter law enforcement and feel, especially if they are innocent, that if they explain themselves the issue will just resolve itself. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The threshold of evidence needed to press criminal charges is very low, so the less you say, the better.
If you are under investigation, it is a wise investment to hire a criminal defense attorney before speaking with law enforcement. An attorney's role in this situation is to manage the flow of information (if any) between you and law enforcement. This is done with two goals in mind: 1) to try to prevent you from being charged criminally if at all possible and 2) to prevent a prosecutor from getting valuable information that can be used to potentially convict you in court. Generally, the less information the state has, the better.
If you are being contacted by law enforcement as part of a criminal investigation, hire a pre-arrest representation attorney as quickly as possible.