If you have found yourself with a criminal charge, it can be a very stressful and anxious time.
But you are not alone. Each year there are over 10 million arrests in the US, and many of these cases will end up in court. Depending on the offense, some of the penalties can be very serious, including imprisonment.
So if you are facing charges, how prepared do you feel for a criminal court case?
Legal rules and the court system can be intimidating and difficult to understand, especially if this is your first time facing criminal charges. In fact, even if you are only under investigation, you may still benefit from some advice.
Even if you are a smart, educated person, there is no substitute for professional help. A criminal law attorney can help you if you are under investigation, or facing charges. But if you are still not sure, read this guide to find out more.
What Is A Criminal Law Attorney?
A criminal law attorney is a lawyer specializing in the defense of people charged with committing a crime.
Their role is to handle your case and legally represent you. A defense attorney will deal with investigators, police and the court officials on your behalf. They will also help you to understand all aspects of your case.
Do You Need Representation?
Criminal charges fall into two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. If you are accused of either, then you should contact a defense lawyer as soon as you can.
Here are the most common types of felony:
Felonies are the more serious crimes you can be charged with. Being found guilty of a felony can result in a lengthy prison sentence or, in some states, even the death penalty.
Here are the most common misdemeanors that would require a defense attorney:
- Petty theft
- First-time possession of drugs
- Reckless driving
- Disorderly conduct
Misdemeanors are less serious offenses than felonies. Being found guilty of a misdemeanor can result in a short prison sentence or a fine.
Thinking of Going Alone? Think Again
If you are a smart, educated individual, it may be tempting to think that you can go it alone and represent yourself. There are plenty of books that outline criminal law as well as plenty of information available online.
However, there is a vast difference between reading about the law and practicing it. An experienced defense attorney will understand the courtroom procedures in a way that is impossible to learn from a book.
If you hire a local attorney, they may well have experience with the prosecutors, police, and judge connected to your case. This will command respect and offer an advantage when it comes to negotiating your plea that you would not achieve if you are self-representing.
What A Criminal Lawyer Can Do For You
So what can a criminal lawyer do for you?
Assess Your Case
While each criminal case is different, an experienced defense attorney will have seen similar cases to yours. They will have the experience and the skills to assess your case based on the evidence and come up with a strategy.
Your lawyer will ask you to provide them with all the details you can about the crime you are charged with. They may ask you to think of witnesses and may get you to fill in a questionnaire so they have as much information as possible.
Once your lawyer has assessed your case they will be able to talk you through your options, and what will happen next.
It is not a lawyer’s job to tell you what you want to hear. They have to remain professional and objective, and sometimes that might mean giving you a bit of a reality check.
An experienced lawyer will have a good idea about what will happen next in your case. They will also have a realistic understanding of how your case is going, and the most likely outcome.
Negotiate a Plea Bargain
One of the most important roles of a defense attorney is to negotiate a plea bargain on your behalf.
A plea bargain can potentially reduce your sentence or the fine brought against you. Negotiating deals with prosecutors is a very skilled practice and some prosecutors and judges are reluctant to negotiate with people representing themselves.
Explain Legal Rules
There are many complex rules that surround each criminal case. You may be aware of some, but only an experienced lawyer will be able to explain to you how they all affect your case in particular.
For example, there are rules about police searches that you may not be aware of and that you may even be able to contest in court.
Navigate The Court System
Criminal courts can be intimidating places, especially if it is your first time in a courtroom. However, a lawyer will understand exactly how courts work and will be able to talk you through everything that will happen during your case.
Each courtroom is different, so one of the advantages of hiring a local lawyer is that they will know many of the people who work in the court. They will also be aware of any local court customs that are specific to your area.
Talk To Witnesses
As well as actually questioning witnesses in court, your defense attorney will also be able to gather information from prosecution witnesses.
It is unlikely that prosecution witnesses would want to talk to the defendant, so having a defense lawyer to gather this information for you is important.
Find A Criminal Law Attorney Today
As this guide shows, if you are facing legal charges or being investigated for a crime, then you need a criminal law attorney.
A defense attorney can help you navigate your court case, make plea bargains and explain the finer points of criminal law to you.
Hiring an experienced criminal lawyer can make the difference between winning or losing your case. So if you are in need of a defense attorney, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of criminal lawyers today.