Criminal Defense

Charged with a Crime or Under Investigation?

Whether you’ve been charged with a crime or are under investigation, it’s critical to contact an experienced attorney right away.

Samuel Ansell (Hablamos Español) can intervene by contacting detectives and prosecutors in the beginning stages of their investigation. This intervention can have a powerful impact on the charges filed against you.

It’s a high standard and any reasonable theory of innocence that is consistent with the evidence requires that you be found not guilty. If the prosecutor thinks they might lose at trial then they will be more inclined to offer a favorable plea agreement.

Regardless of what really happened, your GUILT or INNOCENCE will be determined either by a TRIAL or PLEA NEGOTIATIONS in anticipation of a trial.

The primary question is whether the prosecutor has enough evidence to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

Case Discovery & Investigation

You have certain discovery rights. In Federal Court, Criminal Rule 16 requires the government to disclose:

  • Any record of any statement you have made
  • Any item they intend to use at trial
  • Summaries of opinion testimony they intend to use at trial
  • Anything taken from the defendant
  • Anything material to the preparation of a defense

Shortly before trial, the government will provide access to prior statements by their witnesses that would be subject to disclosure after direct examination pursuant to the Jencks Act.

In state criminal court, your discovery rights are much broader.

The most important difference is you will learn the identity of all witnesses against you long before trial. Better still, you have the right to take their depositions before trial. This means that you can subpoena every state witness and force them to appear for a recorded interview while under oath and therefore exposed to a charge of perjury if they lie.

Your attorney can ask them anything about their knowledge of the case and any question reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of relevant evidence. Depositions lock in a witness’ testimony so they can’t surprise you at trial. Depositions also provides an opportunity to further your own investigation of the facts.

Discovery and independent investigation will reveal the evidentiary foundations of your defense, but that is only half the work your attorney must do…

Let’s find a way to move
forward together.

Schedule your case evaluation here.

Note: Legal Counsel is offered in both English and in Spanish.

Trial Preparation

Preparing for trial is the other half. Your criminal defense attorney must:

  • Prepare to cross examine each prosecution witness in order to attack the theory of the prosecution
  • Prepare for direct examination of each defense witness, including the defendant, in order to tell, as vividly as possible, the story of the defense

Regardless of how strong or weak the case against you appears to be, we at Ansell Law ALWAYS do the work to prepare your case for trial.

This is not rocket science or brain surgery or some mysterious magic. You will understand the purpose of every action we take. You will see the work we do and you will understand how it fits into our overall strategy.

By doing the work to prepare for trial we accomplish what is necessary to obtain the best possible result in every case.

By always challenging the prosecution’s case, we…

  • Improve your odds of forcing them to dismiss a case that does not withstand serious scrutiny
  • Improve your odds of a favorable plea offer
  • Improve your odds of prevailing at trial if you reject all plea offers and decide to go the distance

There is no better approach.

About Ansell Law

Sam Ansell Criminal Defense AttorneyThere are a number of criminal defense attorneys in Indianapolis and surrounding cities. What sets Ansell Law apart is that we begin every case with complete discovery and thorough investigation.

Upon a command of the facts and evidence, we survey all potential legal challenges. Throughout this process, plea negotiations play out like a cross between chess and poker.

If a prosecutor knows you can fight back they are more likely to give you what you need to get on with your life. If your freedom is on the line you need an experienced trial attorney known by prosecutors as someone who always prepares for trial and knows how to fight to win.

Attorney Sam Ansell and the team at Ansell Law know how to fight for the best possible results on every case.

Criminal Defense Practice Areas

  • Battery

  • Domestic Violence

  • Drug Conspiracy

  • Drug Dealing

  • Drug Possession


  • Pre-Indictment

  • Representation

  • Probation Violations

  • Public Intoxication

  • Rape

  • Representation while under Investigation

  • Theft

  • Traffic Offenses

Criminal Defense Video FAQs

What is Criminal Defense?

I think a criminal defense is a battle for truth and for justice, and ultimately for freedom for individuals. I think that state power is abused sometimes, and people need protection.

The criminal justice system is imperfect. And those imperfections can lead to a lot of injustices.

We have an adversarial system, and there are professionals on the other side that are fighting as hard as they can to take away your freedom, to prove that you’ve done something that maybe you didn’t do. And you need to fight with equal force to defend yourself.

Law enforcement wants to solve crimes and they may see a set of facts that lead into one direction and then they may stop investigating other potential leads. And once they focused on a person, then they’re going to try to tailor every detail to that person, whether they’re guilty or not.

And it’s important to employ the tools available to you as a defendant, as a defense attorney to make sure that they aren’t able to create impressions that aren’t necessarily true, to make sure that there’s a counterpoint to the points that they make, if such a counterpoint is available.

What are the Most Common Criminal Defense Cases?

I get a lot of drug cases. We get drug cases; I’ve represented maybe a dozen people over the years who were falsely accused of rape. We just got a dismissal about a week ago, a kid, 18-year old, he was falsely accused.

And as we dug into the evidence and interviewed witnesses, we were able to demonstrate that it wasn’t a strong case. And the offer went from something like 20 years DOC down to an outright dismissal. Because when the evidence was scrutinized, pre-trial, it unraveled, and the state had to concede that.

Other cases of DUI’s, driving cases, RICO cases, fraud cases. There’s many situations where the evidence is complex data, someone’s financial, someone’s tax returns, and bookkeeping, and they’re accused of some kind of fraud or they’re accused of tax evasion.

And if you dig into that evidence, sometimes you can see that the state or the government doesn’t have what they think they have or what they accused the person, what they alleged that they have. And hard work can make those cases go away too.

What Should You Do if Being Investigated by Local Authorities?

Usually when someone’s being investigated they’ve either received a target letter from a grand jury or a detective has called them or showed up at their house.

If you get a target letter, call an experienced criminal defense attorney right away and have them investigate to find out what’s going on and to give you advice from there.

If you get a call from or a visit from a detective, the most important thing you can do is politely decline to answer any of the questions without a lawyer. Get their name and number. Call a lawyer, the lawyer will intervene. An experienced criminal defense attorney will know what to do at that point of an investigation where a person’s not been charged yet.

What I typically do is I’ll charge a fee for pre-charge representation, and if that person ends up being charged I will apply that fee as a deposit towards representing them.

But it’s important to have an attorney who talks to the detective on your behalf in order to find out what is the nature of the investigation, what they have so far, and to make sure that they don’t get any more, at least not from the client.

What Steps Should You Take When Charged of a Crime?

And so if you’ve been charged you’ve either received a summons or you’ve been arrested or a court has issued an arrest warrant and the police are looking for you. If you know there’s a warrant out there, again, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

That lawyer may be able to get the warrant recalled, depending on the nature of the offense and you could rather than spending a day and a half in the jail before you bond out you could simply go to court and be processed by law enforcement but not actually be processed into the jail and have to spend the night there.

It’s important to have an attorney as early in the process as possible. If you don’t have funds for an attorney, tell the court you can’t afford an attorney, asked them to appoint a public defender. You can always hire a private attorney later. And if you have the money then you should hire someone right away.

What are the Biggest Mistakes People Make after Being Arrested?

The biggest mistake you can make is to talk to law enforcement without an attorney. If they’re investigating you, they may say, “Oh, hey, well, we just want to give you a chance to tell your side of the story.” That’s not what they really want. They really want you to say something that makes you look guilty, what are you guilty of not.

And they’re trained in tricks in what to say and how to engage you and to get you talking, maybe present you with some fact that doesn’t look good and want you to explain that. “Well, so why would this person say this? What would they have to gain?” And they try to get you speculating.

And then people end up making admissions because they think that if they admit a little bit then maybe the law enforcement will accept that compromise and not be as hard on them. But they’re going to use what you say against you as best they can. So it’s better that you not say anything.

The other big mistake people make when they’d been charged or when they’re arrested is getting on the jail phone and calling their friends and relatives and making statements about the case or about the evidence. That’s always going to be recorded.

It’s always going to be reviewed by some intern at the prosecutor’s office, and if you say something that hurts your case it is always going to be used against you.

What Should You Expect from a Good Criminal Defense Attorney?

I think a good criminal defense attorney is going to communicate well with the client. A good criminal defense attorney is going to thoroughly explain the case.

Clients should understand the law, should know all the facts of the case, should understand the evidence in terms of its admissibility, and in terms of the weight that it’s likely going to have the impact that it’s likely going to have on a judge or a jury.

A good criminal defense attorney will discuss the constitutional issues, whether there’s any evidence that was obtained in violation of the constitution or whether that evidence could be suppressed.

And a good criminal defense attorney should really just make you understand everything that they understand in order to help you make the decisions that you need to make, whether you’re going to go to trial, whether you going to take a shot at a motion to suppress, whether you’re going to make a counteroffer, whether you’re going to ultimately take a plea.

What Separates Sam Ansell from other Criminal Defense Attorneys?

I think what sets me at the top of the pack is my knowledge, my ability, my experience, and also my attitude. My willingness to fight, and to fight fearlessly and to do it carefully and methodically, and to make sure that every case gets exactly the work that it needs.

And that’s part of the reason why I’m not going to take a case for an extremely discounted fee, because the case needs to be worked. So I would advise people to be careful of an attorney that’s going to charge you maybe 1/3 of what another attorney is going to charge you, because you might end up getting 1/3 of the necessary work.

What Should You Expect after Contacting Criminal Defense Attorney Sam Ansell?

They should expect me to take a look at their case to do an initial investigation and tell them what I think, how much I’m going to charge. And once they hire me they should expect me to immediately obtain all the discovery to set depositions of the witnesses.

They should expect me to investigate the scene. They should expect me to contact and communicate with potential defense witnesses. They should expect me to address bail issues, release conditions. They should expect me to fight for them to be free while the case is pending, if it’s at all possible. They should expect me to prepare for trial even if we’re ultimately just going to take a plea.

They should have an offer, an opportunity to take an offer before we go to trial, an opportunity to make a counteroffer. Be educated by their attorney about the law, about how the law applies to the facts, about the potential evidence, the evidence that we know exist, the evidence that might be out there that hasn’t been revealed yet, and the admissibility of that, and the impact of that on a jury.

And they should take all that information and weigh their options in order to make the decision that is best for them.

Why Is Attorney Sam Ansell Passionate about Criminal Defense?

Because I care about people, I care about justice. I think it’s one of the worst things that could happen to a person is to be falsely accused and falsely convicted of a crime and to lose their freedom.

And we know from DNA-based exonerations that there have been thousands of people wrongly convicted, and those are just the ones we know about. Many more were wrongly convicted, but we’ll just never know because there’s not new technology that’s able to go back and prove that they weren’t at the scene or they weren’t the person that did what they’re accused of doing.

I care about making sure that every person that I represent gets the best possible defense, not preparing for trials in not a strong position, whether the case is ultimately a winner or a loser – you want to be prepared to make the best fight you can possibly make.

What are Sam Ansell’s Proudest Moments as a Criminal Defense Attorney?

There have been a lot of cases that we’ve gotten terrific results on. One case that stands out is a … it was a federal case in the Northern District of Indiana that was just based on a novel interpretation of the anti-alien smuggling act.

People were helping undocumented aliens to obtain vehicle registrations by creating a business entity, an LLC, in the name of the undocumented alien. And then that LLC could be the registered owner of a vehicle, so the vehicle could be titled, the vehicle could be registered, and instead of being titled or registered to Juan Carlos, it was titled or registered to Juan Carlos LLC.

There’s really nothing illegal about that in any particular aspect of it, but taken as a whole the government interpreted that as conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens. And they initiated two prosecutions, that before I got involved where everyone pled guilty and they received I think an average of 33 months in prison before being deported.

I got involved in the third case, and there was my client and five other co-defendants. And the first thing I noticed was that the other lawyers just seemed to sort of take it for granted that the government was going to prove the case and that these people if they didn’t plead guilty we’re going to be convicted at trial and sentenced to lengthy times in prison.

But I really just didn’t buy the government’s theory, and I made every challenge I could make, pre-trial, and I encouraged the other attorneys to do the same. And I think my client’s co-defendants could see that someone was fighting and someone was raising these issues, and I think that inspired them to want to fight as well.

So everyone ended up gearing up for trial. And I managed to get my client severed from the others, once known as a Bruton issue, there was a supposed statement by my client that would be self-incriminating if he had made it and would also tend to incriminate the others. Now, against my client that statement will not be hearsay because it would be an admission against interest by a party opponent. However, against … to use that same testimony against the co-defendants it would be hearsay.

So I encouraged another one of the attorneys to file a motion in limine to raise that issue which is known as a Bruton issue, and that resulted in the government moving to sever my client from the remaining co-defendants. So the five co-defendants went to trial and they were all convicted.

A couple months later my client went to trial and we just fought relentlessly, I wasn’t trying to be polite, I wasn’t trying to make any friends, I wasn’t trying to make the judge like me. I just fought every point relentlessly.

And at the end of the trial the judge actually reversed himself, and he entered a judgment of acquittal before we could even get to the jury, so I didn’t even have to put on a defense. But we had done so much damage on cross-examination to the government’s witnesses that ultimately the judge intervened and put a stop to it.

After that acquittal one of the co-defendants hired me for the appeal, and so there were other attorneys involved in that and I cooperated with them and advanced my theories and my arguments that were adopted by the others and presented on behalf of all of our clients to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

About two hours after oral argument I was still driving home to Indianapolis from Chicago, and we got the initial order, which I’ve never seen before, never heard of this, they vacated all of the convictions immediately. Ordered everyone acquitted of count one conspiracy to harbor and remanded the case for new trials for everyone on count two, which was conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

They also just did not buy the government’s theory that engaging this conduct constituted harboring illegal aliens, so they just annihilated the government in that point and remanded on the mail fraud count which was weak as well.

So these people who had been sentenced to lengthy periods of incarceration, my client was amongst the least culpable on appeal, and she was in prison for two years, serving a two-year sentence and she got out I think the next day.

And that was a proud moment, because I think without my intervention I think that the business as usual lawyers that were involved would have just talked to their clients into pleading guilty and told them, “Look, they’re going to convict you, you’re going to do 30 months if you plead guilty, you’re going to do 60 or 70 months or more if you go to trial and lose.”

And so I don’t think it ever would have gone to appeal or would have gone to trial or would have gone up on appeal and they’d still be doing that to people right now, so that’s one of my proudest cases.

FAQs about Criminal Defense

If you are criminally investigated, you may have received a target letter from a grand jury or a detective may have contacted you to get “your side of the story.”

  • The moment you get a target letter, call an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. The lawyer will investigate the investigation and tell you how to respond.
  • If a detective visits or calls you, DO NOT ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS without a lawyer. Get their contact information and tell them that your lawyer will call them back asap.

An experienced criminal defense attorney will know exactly what to do when a person has not yet been charged. Sometimes a detective wants to speak with you because they don’t have enough evidence and they are hoping you will admit to some detail that improves their case.

Don’t fall for the “your side of the story” trick. Chances are they are not trying to clear you. They are trying to incriminate you. Another danger to keep in mind is that danger that the detective might hear or remember something you didn’t actually say. If that happens, the case might come down to your word against theirs. It is always better to get a lawyer before you answer any questions.

If you received a summons contact a lawyer as early as possible to make sure they can be available the day you are ordered to appear in court or, if they’re not available, so they have time to file a continuance.

  • If you find out that police are looking for you there may be an arrest warrant. Call an attorney. They will find out what’s going on. If a warrant was issued your attorney may be able to get it recalled so you can appear in court to answer the charges without having to be arrested. If the court refuses to recall the warrant you can coordinate your surrender with your lawyer so they can be ready to fight for a bond reduction.
  • If you can’t hire a lawyer right away you may be eligible for a public defender. You can always hire a lawyer later on if your public defender is inexperienced or does not seem to be working on your case.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind if you are in this situation.

  • If you get arrested, never talk to law enforcement without an attorney, period. Politely tell them that you would like to remain silent until an attorney arrives. They will try their best to make you talk, and when you make any statement, it will go against you at the trial. That’s why it is vital not to talk to them at all. They may even try to get an admission out of you. They are clever and have been trained to make you feel comfortable like what you are saying is harmless. The best policy is to remain absolutely quiet and let your attorney do all the talking.
  • After being arrested, many people call their friends and family from the jail phone. They also talk about the case. That’s a huge mistake, as all phone conversations are recorded. The statements made on the phone conversation can be used against you at trial. So, completely refrain from making any call, or if you make a call, leave case facts aside from the conversation.

When you are choosing a criminal defense lawyer, you need to keep in mind the following pointers.

  • Choose a criminal defense lawyer with both trial experience and appellate experience. The two go hand in hand. A good trial lawyer will learn from their appeals and vice-versa. A successful appeal means the trial lawyer created the necessary record below despite an adverse ruling by the trial judge.
  • Communication is paramount. An excellent criminal defense attorney is going to explain the case thoroughly. They should help you understand every aspect of your case. They should explain the law as it applies to the evidence. They will also explain the implications of all your possible options.
  • Ask them if they’ve handled cases like yours before. Ask them to explain all the legal issues including whether there is a basis to suppress evidence. Ask them to explain their strategy to win at trial or to compel a favorable plea offer from the prosecutor.
  • If the lawyer is especially affordable they may not be intending to do the work that needs to be done. It’s easy to sit on a case until the state makes its offer and then convince the client to accept that offer. Sometimes you get what you pay for. Beware of the cheap defense attorney.

Tell me what’s on your mind. I’m here to help.

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