Do I Really Need an Attorney?
With the exception of parking tickets and low level moving violations, it is our recommendation that you obtain legal representation any time you go to court. Even for moving violations, it is not a bad idea to consult an attorney. The reason for this is simple: there is too much on the line and the law is too complicated for most individuals to navigate it alone. A lawyer has gone to school and been trained in legal procedures. They have knowledge and experience that comes with spending a lot of time in court handling similar cases. They are capable of objectively seeing the merits of the case without the emotion people typically feel when charged with a crime. Your attorney can make sure you follow the proper procedures, you understand the criminal defense process, and you put forward the best defense possible.
What is Criminal Defense?
Different attorneys and firms generally choose to focus on one area of the law. Some attorneys focus on personal injury. This means when a client is injured, they will file a claim against whoever is responsible for the injury in an attempt to gain compensation for the damages. A corporate attorney generally works with large businesses; a bankruptcy attorney represents people as they eliminate debt through the bankruptcy process. A criminal defense attorney focuses on defending individuals who have been charged with crimes. They assess the charges, file the necessary paperwork and create a defense on their client’s behalf. Criminal defense attorneys represent people charged with all types of crimes, from DWI's to weapon charges to murder.
What Kind of Defense Will My Attorney Use?
The defense your attorney will craft depends primarily on your crime and its severity. Your attorney will closely evaluate your case, weighing the charges, the evidence, your past criminal record, what the best possible outcome for you will be and what is possible given the circumstances. But while each case is different, Findlaw explains some common approaches criminal defense attorneys may use. The first is simply telling the truth. While facts may not change, the perspective of an individual in a specific moment may be different than of another person in the same instance. The attorney will also look for mitigating factors. These may include evidence that casts a more positive light on the defendant and the defendant’s motivations. The attorney may find a way to create sympathy from the judge and the jury. Generally, the more experienced the attorney, the more tools the attorney will have to use.
How Much Do Criminal Attorneys Charge?
According to NOLO, an online legal guide, the cost of a criminal defense attorney depends upon several factors. The first is the attorneys themselves. How experienced are they, and what kind of reputation do they have? Do they have a strong record defending against the specific charges you face? The next is the case itself. How simple or complex is the case? What kind of evidence is against you? Does your case have the potential to be a long one? The attorneys themselves charge in different ways. Some are willing to accept a payment plan; others charge by the hour, while others still will charge a flat rate. It depends on your circumstances and the attorney.
What if I Don't Have the Money to Pay a Private Attorney?
No matter your economic circumstances, every citizen is guaranteed the right to legal representation. If an individual cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint a public defender – an attorney employed by the county or a non-profit. The problem with using a public defender, is that the individual does not get to choose the attorney assigned to their case. The public defender assigned may be experienced, or they may be inexperienced. Additionally, they are also often overworked, and as a result will not be able to offer the individual attention most defendants prefer.
What Should I Do if I Have Been Charged with A Crime?
If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, the first thing to do is to seek legal representation. Be polite to officers; but remember that you do not have to answer any questions, and if you are being arrested, it is very unlikely that you will be able to talk your way out of being arrested. Additionally, anything you say will become part of the official record and can be used against you. As soon as allowed the opportunity, retain an attorney who will help guide you through the coming days.