Criminal Defense Help: Protect Your Rights With An Experienced Attorney
Being in trouble with the law can be an intimidating, nerve-wracking experience. You probably have a million thoughts racing through your mind — how serious are the charges against me? Will I spend time behind bars? Am I going to lose my job because of this? What will my friends and family think?
If you’ve been arrested and charged with a crime or are currently the subject of an investigation by law enforcement, you need to seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
It is in your best interests to contact a lawyer before making any type of statement to law enforcement. Anything you say can and will be used against you.
When a criminal defense attorney intervenes early in the process, they can:
- protect your rights during police questioning
- seek your release through bail if in police custody
- preserve evidence
- gather witness testimony
- reach out to the prosecutor in an attempt to prevent charges from being filed or to negotiate a favorable outcome.
The legal system is complex and there’s far too much at stake to risk navigating it on your own without the proper guidance. If you’re worried about the cost, it’s important to note that many lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning there are no upfront or hidden fees and they will only get paid if they win your case. In addition, there are lawyers who are willing to set up manageable payment plans for their clients.
Don’t hesitate to research and contact an attorney in your area. At the very least, you can take advantage of a free, no-obligation consultation.
Potential Consequences of a Criminal Conviction
The nature and extent of the penalties you face will depend on the severity of the offense, the laws in your state, and your own criminal history.
The most common types of punishment for a criminal offense includes:
- Incarceration in jail (shorter-term)
- Incarceration in prison (longer-term)
- Death Penalty (in some states)
- Payment of restitution to victim
- Community Service
- Drug and alcohol rehabilitation
- Criminal record
A criminal conviction can have an impact on your life that extends beyond the penalties imposed in the courtroom. The following are a list of “collateral” consequences you may face…
- Difficulty securing employment: most employers require a background check in which you must disclose whether or not you have been convicted of a crime. This may, unfortunately, affect your ability to get hired.
- Difficulty being approved for student loans: a criminal conviction can make it difficult to secure federal student aid diminishing your ambitions of getting into the school of your choice
- Loss of professional license: if you hold a professional license for a particular vocation, you may be in danger of having it suspended or revoked which can ruin your career and reputation
- Loss of driving privileges: the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state may administratively suspend or revoke your license for a period of time. This is common in DUI cases but can be an added punishment for other offenses as well.
- Difficulty obtaining housing: Government housing authorities may prohibit felons from living on their properties; private landlords may evict or refuse to rent to felons.
- Losing child custody: if you are in the middle of a divorce or have a child custody arrangement already in place, a conviction may jeopardize your parental rights
- Change in immigration status: a criminal record can prevent a foreign national from obtaining a green card, becoming a naturalized citizen, or obtaining change in immigration status
- Sex offender registration: if you are convicted of a sexual offense, you will most likely have to register as a sex offender. This can affect your standing in the community and place restraints on where you can live.
- Losing right to purchase or use a gun
- Losing the right to vote
Benefits of Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Explanation of charges
The criminal justice system is filled with legal jargon and can be confusing and overwhelming. Obtaining criminal defense help from an experienced lawyer who can explain what is happening at every stage in your case is important. They can help you understand the nature of the charges filed against you, the potential consequences you face if convicted, and which defenses are available to you.
Protection of your Constitutional Rights and Freedoms
Even though you have been accused of a crime, you are innocent until proven guilty. The state has the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Constitution grants you certain fundamental rights when accused of a crime — the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, and the right to a trial by jury to name a few. You need criminal defense help from an attorney that can ensure that you are afforded all of these protections under the law.
For example, if the police obtained evidence without probable cause that you committed a crime or without a search warrant or your consent, your attorney can file a motion to suppress this evidence. Evidence acquired illegally is considered inadmissible in court and the charges against you would be thrown out.
Criminal Defense Help Knowledge and Expertise
The law degree that hangs in an attorney’s office is a testament to many years of rigorous studying and training. Criminal defense is a specialized area of law that requires a firm grasp of police procedures, investigative techniques, crime scene analysis, forensics, science, and more.
Many criminal defense lawyers are former prosecutors and as such, they have a unique perspective and understanding of how the other side thinks and prepares cases. This “insider” information enables a defense lawyer to “outmaneuver” the prosecution.
There’s no such thing as a one-size fits all defense. A criminal defense attorney will carefully review the specific facts of your case and customize a defense strategy that works for your case. They will aim to poke holes in the prosecution’s case in an effort to raise questions of reasonable doubt.
A criminal defense firm will have the necessary resources to launch an effective defense on your behalf. They can gather evidence, track down witnesses, and prepare documents. Your attorney will most likely have access to a network of forensic experts, crime scene investigators, medical experts, and witnesses who can provide credible testimony on your behalf.
Familiarity with Local Court Rules and Procedures
Get criminal defense help from a local attorney who will have a strong understanding of state-specific laws and procedures. They will also be familiar with or have working relationships with judges, prosecutors, bailiffs, clerks, and police officers who will be handling your case.
90% of legal cases are settled out of court. A criminal defense attorney can negotiate with the prosecution in an attempt to
- reduce the criminal charge to a lesser offense (for instance, reduce a felony to a misdemeanor);
- lessen the severity of the punishment for the crime;
- propose diversionary program tailored to client’s specific needs in lieu of incarceration; may include treatment, therapy, community service, etc.
A smart criminal defense attorney will always prepare your case as if it’s going to trial. This means that they do their homework and don’t take shortcuts. In the event that negotiation or plea bargaining does not succeed, a criminal defense lawyer will be thoroughly prepared to fiercely advocate on your behalf in court in front of a judge or jury.