Everyone makes mistakes, but some of our mistakes can have more severe consequences than others. If you are facing criminal charges, the consequences and punishments you might be facing could be quite severe.
There are some situations where legal issues can be sorted out without professional help. However, given the high stakes typically involved in criminal cases, having a criminal attorney by your side can often be an essential step.
When is it necessary to hire a criminal defense attorney and when might you be able to handle things on your own? Read on and we’ll walk you through everything that you need to know.
What Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Do?
There are many instances where a criminal defense lawyer might be important to have at your side. Before delving into these various circumstances, however, it can be important to understand exactly what kind of services this type of professional tends to offer.
A criminal defense attorney is brought onto a case when someone has been charged with criminal activity. They will likely be potentially facing punishment by city, state, or federal government agencies. The hope of the individual hiring an attorney will be to prove their innocence or to lessen their punishment.
The punishment for criminal charges can be quite severe. Even if someone is guilty of committing a crime, an attorney might be able to make a case that the individual does not deserve the full extent of the punishment administered by the law.
Making a Case
In order to support and defend their client, an attorney will spend a great deal of time researching and investing the case that is being made against their client. They will hear out their client’s side of the story and secure as much evidence as possible to help support this story.
If a person claims they are innocent of robbing a bank, for example, a criminal attorney might gather video evidence of the robbery from security cameras that support this. They might find a great deal of evidence to support their client’s alibi that they were somewhere else on the night of the robbery.
A defense attorney will examine witnesses, analyze the prosecutor’s case, deal with legal paperwork, and in general oversee all aspects of a client’s case. As evidence comes together and a potential outcome becomes more clear, an attorney will work towards ensuring this outcome is as good as possible for their client.
They might try to reduce bail, charges, and sentence time. Given how overcrowded jails and courts have become, deal-making has become an important part of the legal justice system. It’s certainly possible for an attorney to make a case that a client deserves more lenient punishment.
A Shoulder to Lean On
Most people who face criminal charges do not have a true sense of what they are up against. They don’t understand the legal justice system and would have a great deal of difficulty navigating it all on their own.
There is a lot of paperwork to work through, deadlines to be met, and precise procedures and traditions that need to be followed exactly. An attorney can walk a client through these steps so that they don’t have to struggle to figure it all out on their own.
An attorney can explain the legal options and realities to a client in a manner that they can understand. A criminal defense attorney can give advice and information to a client who is likely going through a difficult time.
There are few things more stressful than facing criminal charges during one’s lifetime. Having an experienced professional by one’s side during this difficult time can make it more manageable to get through the overall legal process.
When Should You Hire an Attorney?
In which instances might a person need to hire a criminal defense attorney? There are many. If the punishment that awaits at the other side of a criminal charge is serious, there is almost no scenario where the individual might not benefit from having a defense attorney at their side.
The Police Want To Talk
We’ve all heard the famous refrain of our Miranda Rights given time and time again on television and in the movies. “You have the right to remain silent, anything you do or say can be used against you in a court of law…”
This isn’t just a piece of narrative information, it is essential and true! If you are being questioned by the police, anything that you say to them can be used as evidence in your case later on.
It’s very easy, even if you are well-intentioned, to incriminate yourself or worsen your situation by speaking directly to the police. You have a legal right to an attorney and you should wait until you’ve spoken to them before you’re open with the police.
An attorney can ensure you don’t put yourself in a worse situation by saying something that you should not.
Saves You Money
Jail time isn’t the only punishment that awaits on the other side of a criminal charge. In many cases, a person charged with a crime will also be forced to pay a large financial total.
While hiring a criminal defense lawyer might cost you a decent amount of money, it will be worth it if the amount you might owe will be a great deal more. An attorney can argue your punishment down or get it eradicated completely.
If you’re unsure whether or not an attorney will be able to save you money, you can always sit down to have a free consultation with one. Most attorneys will be upfront with you about what they will be able to do and what their odds of success are.
Expert Legal Advice
As we mentioned previously, navigating the criminal justice system can be quite complicated. In addition to facing your criminal charges, the stress of doing all things properly during this stage of your case can be immense.
You simply don’t have the background or experience to know how to properly proceed in this kind of setting.
You can take a lot of the pressure off of your shoulders simply by hiring an experienced professional. An experienced attorney has spent years practicing criminal law and will have handled cases just like yours many times in the past.
As such, they will know what strategies to deploy to make your odds of success much higher. They will have a working knowledge of what evidence will need to be gathered and how best to present it.
They might even have prior experience with the judge managing your case. They can provide expert advice on what this might judge might respond to and can use their existing relationship to your advantage.
Understand All Options
Many people who decide to handle their case without an attorney are only focused on proving their innocence altogether. The unfortunate truth is that proving one’s innocence completely might be fairly difficult (especially if it isn’t the full truth!)
The more important skill to have is to know what settlement options might present themselves at the end of a case. Being able to pick between these options properly and to work towards them will be key in securing a proper resolution after a case.
Your attorney can walk you through all the various options and realities that you have. While they can advise you on which path to take, the more important thing they can do is ensure you understand what will happen with each possibility.
They can help you to make the best decision for yourself, by yourself.
What If You Can’t Afford an Attorney?
Many people decide to skip or bypass the help of a criminal defense attorney in an attempt to save money. Others simply might not have the funds available to them to hire this kind of help.
In these instances, there are a few things to consider. If you do have the money to hire an attorney and simply want to save the cash, it’s important to remember that this decision might end up costing you much more later on.
- If you truly don’t have the funds available, you should be able to secure a court-appointed attorney. This person is known as a public defender. They will handle your case at no charge. All people facing criminal charges have a right to an attorney.
While this individual might not be able to provide the personalized attention that a paid attorney might, it’s still better than having no attorney at all.
Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
Facing criminal charges can be quite scary, especially if you are facing them all on your own. While you might not be certain about hiring a criminal defense attorney, the above information can explain why having this kind of help can make a huge difference.
Need more legal advice and information? Keep scrolling our blog for more.
Thanks For Reading
More Read On Forbes Magazine