Whether you have been arrested or think you may be, there are steps you can take to minimize the negative consequences. However, being arrested — or simply being questioned by police — can be a very stressful situation, and often people are not thinking clearly when they speak with police officers and investigators.

That is one major reason you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side as soon as you believe you may be arrested.

Here are three mistakes to avoid:

1. Talking to police before talking to a criminal defense attorney

One of the most important rights you have is the right to remain silent. Remember, anything you say to a police officer may be used against you or others. Also, you have the right to remain silent even if you are detained by police, arrested or in jail. Before talking to police or investigators, talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer. While a police officer’s job may be to arrest you and build a case against you, your lawyer’s job is to challenge the prosecution’s case and protect your rights and interests.

2. Not disclosing all the relevant facts to the defense attorney

In some cases, defendants withhold relevant information from their attorneys. To avoid surprises in your case — and to help your attorney develop an effective defense strategy — it’s important not to hide relevant facts from your lawyer. Remember, your communications with your attorney are confidential if there is an attorney-client relationship.

3. Waiting too late to get a criminal defense lawyer involved

Having to contact a criminal defense lawyer is never an ideal situation, but it is an important step that you should take as soon as possible if you are facing a criminal charge. The sooner a defense attorney can get involved, the sooner the attorney can start protecting your rights and future. You don’t have to face a criminal charge alone. You have the right to mount a defense with the help of a skilled lawyer.