People in New York understand that reputation matters. What others think they know about you affects how they define you, whether it is true or not. You do everything you can to protect your reputation, but if you face criminal charges, the work you put into developing a good name for yourself can disappear in a moment.

If you believe a criminal charge may be in your future, it is essential for you to respond aggressively. Here are four tips for protecting your reputation during a criminal investigation.

  1. Take action before an arrest

If someone has made an accusation against you, and law enforcement is investigating the claim, now is the time to take action. A criminal defense attorney can provide counsel regarding your rights and speak on your behalf.

  1. Exercise your right to remain silent

During a criminal investigation, law enforcement may use unethical tactics to gain information that the authorities believe will be relevant to the case. Whether you are a suspect or the police merely believe you are a person of interest in the case, you could accidentally say something that the prosecution may use against you when you try to tell your side of the story. It is important to tell the police that you are exercising your right to remain silent.

  1. Find out exactly what the accusation is

Typically, you or your legal representative can request the police report that lists the accusation against you from the jurisdiction where the person spoke to the authorities about the claim. Depending on the department, you may have to pay a fee or pay for the copies.

Your attorney can then use the information in the report to launch a counter-investigation and dispute the claims against you before the prosecutor files charges.

  1. Understand the new mugshot legislation

The governor of New York recently signed an amendment to the Freedom of Information Law that makes law enforcement photographs of arrested individuals private. Before the amendment, “mugshots” were available to anyone, and many unscrupulous online companies posted them and required payment from the individual to take them down. The law states that such actions are invasions of personal privacy and are illegal.