Criminal charges usually mean serious penalties. From sizable fines to prison terms, these convictions are life-changers.
Even if your case seems straightforward, you do not have to settle for a severe penalty. A criminal defense attorney can fight for your rights and help minimize the punishment. In a criminal case, these lawyers serve as your representatives, protectors, and guides.
By calling a lawyer right after you are arrested or charged, you can improve the chances of facing harsh penalties. Let’s take a closer look at what a criminal defense lawyer does.
1. Investigate the Case
After taking on your case, criminal defense attorneys investigate to find any loopholes that could help avoid the conviction or negotiate a reduced sentence. The investigation involves reviewing evidence, talking to witnesses and the police, and collecting any available information about the case.
The attorney also looks into the prosecution’s case to find opportunities for improving your line of defense.
2. Hire and Manage Investigators
To obtain vital information in a criminal case, you may need to hire private investigators. An attorney can find and manage these specialists.
Investigators can help find witnesses and establish reasonable doubt in your criminal case. For example, they can uncover mistakes made by the police or find missed evidence.
3. Handle Paperwork
Any criminal case involves a substantial amount of paperwork. Mistakes made with gathering, filing out, and filing documents could compromise your defense. An attorney handles all the case-related paperwork, so you do not have to worry about it.
Criminal cases usually involve rigid deadlines. It is up to the attorney to keep track of them while helping to ensure the accuracy of the related paperwork.
4. Offer an Objective Perspective
Defendants often have a distorted understanding of what their options are. You could be hoping for an unrealistic outcome or planning for severe punishment.
When facing criminal charges, it is often easy to misunderstand the situation. A criminal defense attorney knows exactly how the law works in your particular case. By providing a detailed consultation, a lawyer can help you make decisions and understand what to expect.
Legal experts can give you an objective review of the situation. This can help when making case-related choices.
5. Negotiate With Prosecutors
A lawyer can reduce the penalty in many criminal cases by negotiating a deal with the prosecutor. If this option works for you, an attorney can use their experience and expertise to negotiate a plea bargain and help minimize the sentence.
6. Select the Jury
When it comes to jury selection, a criminal defense attorney can remove any jurors that may appear biased.
7. Take You Through the Trial
If your case goes to trial, a criminal defense lawyer can handle all aspects of the process, including:
- Preparing all the necessary documentation
- Contacting expert witnesses
- Selecting jurors
- Conducting cross-examinations
- Delivering opening and closing statements.
An experienced criminal defense attorney knows how the system works. They understand how to interact with all trial participants to achieve the preferable outcome. These experts work well under pressure and seize important opportunities.
8. Provide Emotional Support
A criminal charge is usually highly stressful for the defendant. Emotional distress, fear, anxiety, and reduced self-esteem are only a small part of what a person may feel during the court proceedings.
A criminal defense attorney can answer all of your questions and provide emotional support throughout the case. Having an experienced lawyer by your side can reduce stress and help you cope with the possible consequences.
9. End the Case Before Prosecutors File Charges
Sometimes, a criminal defense attorney can stop the case in its tracks. If you contact a lawyer as soon as you are arrested, they may still have time to gather evidence that keeps the prosecutor from filing charges in the first place.
Quick actions could also help reduce the charges. For example, evidence and arguments presented by the attorney could convince the prosecutor to charge you with a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
When do you need a criminal defense lawyer?
While you can represent yourself in a criminal case, it can be nearly impossible to achieve the desired results on your own. Since you may be facing a serious punishment, avoiding professional assistance could be an irreversible mistake.
You need a criminal defense lawyer if you are charged with:
- Misdemeanor—petty theft, trespassing, disorderly conduct, domestic violence, DUI, etc.
- Felony—rape, murder, third-time DWI, drug possession, kidnapping, robbery, fraud, etc.
Even if you are innocent and the case seems straightforward, relying on your own efforts could be a mistake. A criminal attorney knows the ins and outs of criminal cases and how to choose the best line of defense.
Do I need a private criminal defense lawyer?
If you do not hire a private criminal defense lawyer, the court can appoint one to you. While public defenders may be highly qualified to defend you in court, they are usually overwhelmed with sizable caseloads.
Public Criminal Defenders
Most people who face criminal charges choose to work with public defenders. As good as they are, these attorneys may simply lack the time to give each case sufficient attention.
Juggling hundreds of cases at once can lead to mistakes. Public defenders lack time, energy, and attention to provide top-notch services to each client. They are also more likely to recommend pleading out.
Another serious disadvantage of working with a court-appointed lawyer is the lack of choice. If you are unhappy with the attorney’s work, getting another one can be extremely difficult.
Private Criminal Defense Lawyers
Private criminal lawyers are not as overwhelmed with cases. They have sufficient time to meet with the defendant, discuss all the possible options, review different lines of defense, and much more.
These experts give full attention to your case, improving your chances of getting the desired outcome. Contacting a private criminal defense attorney as soon as you are arrested can go a long way toward reducing or avoiding a punishment.