Criminal Defense Lawyer
When to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer and Do You Really Need One?
If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime, you must be wondering if you should hire a criminal defense lawyer. There are several advantages of hiring a criminal defense lawyer and things to keep in mind when you get arrested or run into legal trouble.
Who is a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
A criminal defense lawyer is someone who represents the defendants (juvenile and adults) facing criminal charges in court. Representing the defendant include arraignments, pretrial hearings, trials, settlement conferences, plea bargains, revocation hearings, appeals, and sentence hearings.
This type of lawyer guides the defendants throughout the process and helps them understand the tricky legal system and the technicalities of the case. Without having these lawyers on your side when facing criminal charges, understanding the situation without the right legal advice can be impossible.
When to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
Ideally, you should hire a criminal defense lawyer, the moment you get arrested or are informed of the allegations against you. Depending on the seriousness of the crime you are accused of, you should speak to the lawyer as soon as possible. When you are released from jail, hire a criminal defense attorney and state your side of the story to them before your arraignment.
At an arraignment, the criminal charges against you will be read out to you. To which you can plead guilty or not guilty. Having a criminal defense attorney with you when you show up for the arraignment will ensure that at every step, you get the most professional and accurate advice.
Communication with the Lawyer
Before you set foot in the courtroom, on your arraignment day, it is essential to understand everything about the crime you are accused of and decide your stance. The criminal defense lawyer can explain the punishments of having committed the crime you are accused of and whether it is wise to go on fighting the case if you are innocent or seek a plea bargain if you are guilty and want to avoid the hefty fees and expenses.
It is advisable, to not lie to your criminal defense lawyer because they can represent you better when they know everything about your case. Talk to them about the subtlest details that you know or remember and answer all their questions truthfully.
The legal battle of fighting criminal charges against you can be a very bumpy ride and at times it can break you emotionally. Having a legal attorney who has been around the legal system and knows their way is the biggest relief.
Most Common Criminal Offences in the United States
The crime rate of a certain area of a state depends on several factors such as economic situation, job opportunities, societal aspects, living conditions, and settlers. Here is a list of 7 common types of crimes that occur in the United States and are punishable by law.
Property crimes include criminal offenses committed against properties instead of individuals. Usually, these crimes do not involve any injured victims or casualties, and these are divided into further 4 types:
Burglary is when a person breaks into a property such as a house, shop, office, or any other property and commits theft or a felony that is punishable by law.
Larceny-theft refers to the unlawful snatching, hiding, taking, leading, or riding away of a property from another person’s possession without their permission. Such types of theft include shoplifting, pickpocketing, and all types of theft.
Motor vehicle theft
Motor vehicle theft refers to the acquisition of a motor vehicle unlawfully from the possession of its owner. A motor vehicle is a motorcycle, SUV, van, truck, bus, or another type of vehicle that operates with the help of a motor or engine.
Arson refers to the willful burning of a property such as a house, building, or shop. These offenses are mostly termed as theft but the willful destruction of property that happens with the malicious intent of a person is considered arson. Vandalism is also considered a type of property crime as it involves the destruction of a property when the paint is sprayed, a window is broken, or personal property is defaced.
Drug Abuse Violations
The unlawful possession of drugs, its manufacturing, selling, and personal use as a narcotic is a drug abuse violation. Common types of drugs that are often unlawfully possessed are opium or cocaine, marijuana, synthesized, and non-narcotic drugs.
Alcohol-related crimes are a broad category that includes most alcohol-related crimes such as drunk driving, violation of liquor laws, etc.
Driving under the influence of Alcohol
Although drunk driving is the most common type of criminal offense in this category, driving under the influence of narcotics or drugs that inhibit one’s abilities to drive safely are termed an alcohol-related crime.
Public intoxication is when a person drinks beyond their ability to stay respectful and can disturb or hurt others in public. Laws exist to put a stop to this kind of behavior especially when individuals are not in a state to think rationally.
The liquor laws of the state limit and keep in check the selling, manufacturing, purchasing, and use of alcoholic beverages.
A violent crime involves threatening, attempted, or actual use of physical force against a person or property. The crimes that are included in the list of violent crimes are manslaughter, murder, robbery, forcible rape, aggravated assault, and more.
A crime is considered a violent crime if a certain person threatened, attempted, or used physical force against another person or property. This type of crime comprises different offenses, including murder and non-negligent manslaughter, robbery, sexual assault, and aggravated assault.
Murder or Manslaughter
Murder and non-negligible manslaughter are willful killings of a person even when the intention was to kill. This category does not include cases where the attempt to kill happened, the death was a justifiable homicide or occurred due to negligence.
Robbery is a violent crime, not a property crime although it is very similar to theft because the victims are most likely to suffer injuries, could be threatened to be harmed, and get mental health problems in later life because of the incident.
Sexual abuse refers to sexual exploitation and rape that does not involve consent.
Other types of violent crimes include child abuse, maltreatment, elder abuse, gun violence, domestic violence, and other violent crimes that may physically harm a person or a property.
Disorderly conduct refers to a public disturbance, immoral behavior, or a shocking scandal that does not pose a serious public danger but is morally corrupt and disorderly behavior that is unacceptable. The laws of disorderly conduct differ in every state.
Fraud is the misrepresentation of information or material to cause a loss to the other person. Most cases of fraud are for financial gains where an individual, a group of individuals, or an organization commits fraud. Other examples of fraud are identity theft, lottery scams, inheritance scams, driver’s license fraud, and voter fraud.
Offenses Against Family
Unlawful violent acts against families are one of the most common types of offenses against family, where a family member or a guardian can either physically or economically endanger the well-being of the family or cause them mental stress and anxiety that translates into mental disorders.
Sexual assault, physical assault/ domestic violence are some common examples of such crimes. These crimes in the U.S are the highest as compared to others, according to a report from the FBI.
Dos and Don’ts for Your Criminal Case
DO Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer
When you get arrested and a police officer asks you questions, the best idea is to not give them any details or say yes to anything they are asking. Because the police officers are there to arrest you, there is no way you can talk them out of it. Avoid agreeing to a property search or saying yes to anything. You have the right to stay silent, say no to what they are asking, and speak to a lawyer.
Saying things like you have the wrong person, resisting them, or abusing them verbally is not going to change their mind and they might have to use more force to make you quiet and cooperate. Stay silent or politely ask them about your right to make a phone call or talk to an attorney.
Get in contact with your criminal defense attorney and follow the advice of your lawyer when under arrest or when questioned outside police custody by police officers.
DO Stay Respectful in the Courtroom
Staying respectful in the courtroom is going to be in your own best interest. Avoid shouting, abusing, and addressing the judge with their first name. Use ‘your honor’, ‘sir’ or ‘madam’ when you speak to them and be your best self.
You want to look responsible and law-abiding to the judge and the hurry so shows it through your conduct. Also, get to the court in time, or half an hour early if possible. Showing up late is going to be the worst thing you can do because it demonstrates your lack of responsibility.
Dress appropriately when you step into the courtroom. Let your lawyer know you do not have the right attire that you can wear to a courtroom. Your lawyer can give you good advice regarding appropriate courtroom attire.
DON’T Discuss Your Case with Anyone Else
Your friends and family members might ask you questions about your case, it is best to not share any details with them. When more people know about your criminal case, law enforcement has more individuals to question and compare your side of the story with. This can also create trouble for them because they’ll have to get involved as well.
Do not share anything about your case on social media unless your criminal defense attorney asks you to post something related to the case. Avoid talking about it with people no matter how tempting it gets.
DO Comply with Conditions for your Release
If you are released from arrest before the trial, you might be asked to comply with the pre-trial services. The judicial officer might require you to report to him, agree, and follow all the conditions set by him to be released. If you are required to comply with certain conditions, it is mandatory to follow them under all circumstances.
You might have to have check-ins with a police officer regularly, attend the court-mandated programs and psychiatric evaluations. Also, if you are electronically monitored, have restraining orders, are under health treatment, or are on any treatment or rehabilitation program, do not violate the conditions you agreed to. You want to paint a picture of a person who is trying to improve their behavior and build character, violating the term and conditions repeatedly will get you in trouble again.
DON’T Contact Victims or Witnesses
Contacting the victims or witnesses when you are on a criminal trial can do more harm than good. You might end up jeopardizing your case and the court might think that you tried to change what the victim or witness had to say or do, even worse threatened them in any way. You may get charged with the crime of witness tampering or obstruction of justice.
So always consult with your criminal defense attorney to find out what you should or should not do. Your lawyer can attain the best possible outcome for you, even if you have to approach the witness or victim so let your attorney handle it for you.
DO Hire an Experienced Lawyer
Not every lawyer is the same, especially when you are convicted of a criminal felony, you need a criminal defense attorney to not only save you from hefty fines, but also imprisonment. Your best option is to hire a private experienced criminal defense lawyer to make sure that the lawyer will go above and beyond to make things easier and in tough situations, attain the best possible outcome for you.
Criminal defense lawyers have tremendous experience in representing convicts. They are dedicated and skilled, even if they charge twice or thrice more than others, hiring them will save you money, get you the best representation and save you a lot of stress down the road.
Advantages of Having a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Criminal defense lawyers are highly skilled and dedicated to dealing with criminal cases, they know how to determine factors and arguments that can be used to prove you not guilty of the alleged crime. Therefore, hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer is the first thing you need to do when you get criminal charges against you.
Here is a list of advantages of hiring a criminal defense lawyer for your criminal case.
Experience and Knowledge of the Judicial System
Criminal defense lawyers have complete knowledge of the judicial system and experience in representing individuals who have criminal charges against them. The legal system is complex, and only an experienced criminal defense attorney knows how to identify the problems, develop arguments, and comply with the intricate workings and procedures.
The criminal defense attorney can give you advice based on your situation and their years of experience that will help you solidify your case.
Follow Court Procedures
Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side gives you the peace of mind that you will be following the proper court procedures. The attorney deals with all the complex paperwork and properly manages your court documents.
Before you even set foot in the courtroom, the attorney will keep a check on the deadlines, legal procedures, form fillings, and proper studies of the case. Doing it all yourself can be overwhelming and can make you negligent of your personal life responsibilities.
The support of a criminal defense attorney is enough to let the prosecutor know that you have someone competent who won’t give up until the best possible outcome for you is secured.
Relationships with Prosecutors
Experienced criminal defense lawyers have been working in the legal field for years and they often develop good relationships with other attorneys in the time being. The relationship of mutual respect and understanding between your prosecutor and defense lawyer means that you can expect a useful outcome for your case.
When the prosecutor and your criminal defense attorney are comfortable talking to each other, they will know how to come back from heated arguments and negotiate an affordable bond for a better plea.
The lawyer representing you works like a spokesperson for you, and having some previous experience of working with the prosecutor or knowing him, gives them the ability to neutralize arguments. The good rapport of your attorney also matters because with a good reputation and successful experience in handling criminal cases, you can count on them. The judge would also be aware that your attorney is a professional and knows how to defend against the accusation.
No Tampering with Evidence
When your persecutor has experts reviewing the evidence against you, they may take a step forward and illegally tamper with it. Having a legal expert on your side helps you catch the evidence that could have been illegally obtained or tampered with.
Other than catching evidence, the defense attorney knows when a witness is exaggerating the alleged crime or lying, an experienced attorney will be quick to point out the weaknesses in the witness’s statement almost immediately and ask them questions to clarify it all over again.
Moreover, defense lawyers that work with law firms work in teams and the experience of the whole team ensures that they don’t miss a single point when they are defending you. They also have a wide range of connections that may benefit your case. Talking to private investigators, doctors and witnesses can help your attorney find certain points and stronger evidence to defend your case.
At first, it may look like hiring a criminal defense attorney is expensive but later you’ll find that having an expert is going to save you money that you’d be paying otherwise in hefty fines and fees if you lose your case. The case goes smoothly, and you get represented effectively with the help of a lawyer.
The lawyer reduces the amount of time that your case takes and avoids it from becoming prolonged and complicated. The goals of your lawyer align with yours and no one wants to be stuck in legal trouble for long, they want to get back to their normal life as soon as possible and that is what a criminal defense attorney can help you achieve.
The financial loss or settlement money you’d spend otherwise can be higher than the fee of a criminal defense lawyer therefore it is always a good idea to keep the legal consequences in mind of not hiring a criminal defense lawyer. Do your research and hire a reputable lawyer who is both knowledgeable and an expert at what he does to make sure that you don’t spend your life’s savings left and right when accused of a crime.
Get Expert Legal Advice
Professional lawyers have years of experience in representing people who are accused of crimes. Their experience allows them to devise legal ways to defend your case in court. Also, impart knowledge and guidance that will help you follow the best practices in the court and stay away from trouble during the trial period.
The criminal defense lawyers also make sure that your rights are protected from prosecution and law enforcement when you are accused of a crime. The lawyer will not let the evidence obtained illegally stand against you or deprive you of your rights. The study and dedication a criminal defense lawyer can put in your criminal case will translate to attaining the best plea bargain or dismissal of the case. The lawyer knows all the tactics and weaknesses that can be used in the court so you can rest assured that the legal advice your criminal defense lawyer is providing, is authentic.
Protect Your Future
When you have criminal charges against you, your future is at stake. Where your life goes from now and how dramatically it can change if you are proven guilty are things that annoy you the most because no one imagines life to be that way. Going to prison, or spending money on penalties can change your future and your life plans.
Failing to defend yourself can bring serious consequences, and the best way to avoid this is by choosing the right legal representation. The professional defense lawyer can help you clear up your criminal record, impact your future and eliminate the charges against you.
Under all circumstances, the criminal defense lawyer can reduce your charges, dismiss the case, or lessen the penalties. If you are not proven guilty, the defense lawyer will get the accusations removed from your criminal record and set aside a conviction. All in all, reduce the impact of this criminal litigation and its aftereffects on your life.
Proper Personal Attention
Sharing the details of your case can be uncomfortable and people would start to judge you for the charges against you. At some point, you might feel that everyone is against you, and the people you knew so well have started to distance themselves from you.
In a situation when you are fearful, disturbed, and unsure of your future, your lawyer would listen to you without making you uncomfortable, ask questions respectfully and give you space. The up-close and personal attention, the lawyer can give you is sincere and coming from a legal expert along with loads of legal advice.
You can depend on your lawyer because the lawyer will have your back. Lack of understanding of the legal system and not getting the right advice can make people suffer emotionally and spend more time in jail or end up paying higher penalties.
The criminal defense lawyer will make sure that you do not miss any court hearings, miss filing any forms, and stay with you to make the process as easy as possible for you. From the very beginning of the case, the lawyer understands you need personalized attention because everything can overwhelm you. The support and encouragement that come from a lawyer can be invaluable.
Help You Consider All Settlement Options
There are always multiple options available to the defendant in a criminal case. The criminal defense lawyer lets you weigh the outcome of each choice and choose the best one that would work out for you.
Negotiating the most favorable option can help you save time and money, resulting in the dismissal of your case and reduced penalties and charges. You can accept a deal from your prosecutor or go for the trial, but it depends on what is in your best interest. Depending on the complexities and possibilities, the attorney can help you choose the best option.
The attorney will keep you up to date and informed about every decision, and the consequences such as penalties or sentences you would face if you were proven guilty of the crime. Reviewing all the outcomes of a guilty plea and plea bargain will also enable him to let you know what you can get in exchange.
Therefore, having an experienced and dedicated criminal defense lawyer is the ultimate solution to increase your chances of getting the best possible outcome.
Rights of Criminal Defendants
If you get arrested and have criminal charges against you, you become a criminal defendant. Criminal defendants have several rights that begin from the moment they are arrested to the end of the trial period.
- Criminal defendants have the right to be protected against unreasonable searches, and seizures. Therefore, police officers cannot search you without reasonable grounds.
- Illegally obtained evidence cannot be used against the defendant in court.
- The defendant under arrest has the right to remain silent. The prosecutor, criminal defense lawyer, and the judge cannot force the defendant to testify.
- The defendant cannot be put to trial more than once for the same crime. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule. The defendant can face charges in both state and federal court. The defendant can go to criminal court and civil court for the same offense.
- The criminal defendant has the right to a speedy trial, legal representation, and the right to confront the witnesses of the crime they are accused of. If the defendant cannot afford a lawyer, the judge will appoint a public defender for the defendant.
- The criminal defendant has the right to a public trial which means that the accused can be tried by a jury in an open public forum where the family, friends, and press can attend the trial.
- The criminal defendant has the right to get a reasonable bail and avoid a cruel, unusual, and unreasonable punishment. This right also guarantees the basic rights to prisoners during incarceration.
When Should You Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
The criminal charges can be life-changing for you, and when you get arrested, it is best to get in touch with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can make sure that your rights are protected and ensure compliance with the conditions set by law enforcement.
Hiring the defense attorney sooner is also advisable because this allows the attorney to study the case in detail and know your side of the story before you even set foot in the courtroom. Guilty or not, the attorney can negotiate a fair plea bargain, or go with the legal process until the dismissal of the case.
The criminal defense lawyer can also give you the best legal advice, therefore it is vital to appoint a private criminal defense lawyer, if not possible, ask for a court-appointed public defender as soon as you learn about the criminal charges against you.