If you are charged with a criminal offense, it is important to hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Many defendants make the mistake of only hiring a criminal defense attorney after you are formally charged and given a court date. It is in your best interests to at least speak with a criminal defense attorney the moment criminal allegations are leveled against you. This not only gives your lawyer additional time to come up with a defense, but your attorney may be able to clear your name before you are formally charged.
Your attorney does not only represent you in the court. In the majority of cases, your attorney wants to negotiate with the opposition and come to a favorable arrangement without appearing in front of a judge. If mediation is not an option, you need a criminal defense attorney to build a strong defense to use in court. Listed below are the primary benefits of hiring a criminal defense attorney.
Expert Legal Knowledge
Laws and regulations are complex subjects because they cover so many areas. The penalty also varies based on location. Staying up to date with recent law changes is difficult, especially since you need to know the differences between laws in your county versus state laws. In some cases, the state has previously set a less severe precedent than your county, which is something a criminal defense attorney can use in your case.
A common legal tactic is to reference rulings in previous cases. Criminal defense attorneys use their legal experience to research similar cases, not only using prior rulings to get more favorable results, but also studying what tactics were used in those cases. This not only shows the attorney what worked in the past, but also what to expect from the prosecution. If previous cases had harsher rulings, a criminal defense attorney prepares for the prosecution to bring up these cases, finding reasons to dismiss these as outlier cases.
While it is possible to research legal cases on your own, it is much harder to comprehend if you do not have any prior legal experience. It can also be a lengthy process if you do not know where to look.
Protecting your Rights
Legal knowledge and experience is not only important for crafting a defense, but also protecting your rights. If police suspect you of wrongdoing, they will use many different tactics to get you to forfeit your legal rights and make a confession. Even if you later recount what you said, it hurts your case and makes you appear unreliable.
Criminal defense attorneys know exactly what the police can and cannot do. Having a lawyer ensures your rights are not only upheld, but they can also document any situations where either the police or prosecution tried to trick you into forfeiting your rights. Your attorney can also give you an accurate idea of what charges you will face. In many cases, the state lists extreme charges to intimidate you into accepting a plea bargain, even when the charges are not actually applicable to your situation.
Speeding up the Process
Legal cases are often dragged out, sometimes taking months to resolve. The prosecution uses this to their advantage, knowing you are more likely to accept an unfavorable deal just to finally resolve the case. Many clients also imagine the worst possible case scenario the longer they have to reflect on their charges. Criminal defense attorneys know how to speed up cases, forcing the prosecution to list their charges in a timely fashion. They also know all the paperwork that must be filed to keep the process moving.
Many criminal defense lawyers are employed with a law firm. When you hire an attorney from the firm, you are also paying for the firm’s resources. Attorneys can assign research and other time-consuming tasks to their paralegal teams. This both speeds up the process, and ensures your attorney can focus exclusively on crafting your defense or negotiating with the prosecution.
The firm also provides unique experience on cases. Even if your attorney is unfamiliar with the prosecution or judge, there is a good chance another attorney in the firm knows who you are dealing with. The more experienced attorney can act as a mentor, letting your attorney know what defenses the judge prefers or what to avoid from the prosecution.
Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
Most law firms charge an hourly rate to hire a criminal attorney. The cost varies based on location and the severity of the case, costing on average between $100 to $300. Most clients end up paying around $1,500 to $5,000 at the end of their case. If you are unable to afford the usual rates, you can search for an attorney to accept your case pro bono. A pro bono case means all the expenses are covered by the firm. In exchange, the firm gets to improve their reputation, both by helping out in your community and winning the case. The American Bar Association has an online resource for finding a pro bono attorney and other free legal assistance.
Take the time to research possible attorneys. If you know friends or family members who hired a lawyer in the past, ask for recommendations. The majority of law firms provide free consultations. These give you a chance to ask questions about the lawyer and your case. Do not be afraid to ask about previous experience or how much time the attorney can dedicate to your case. You can also search for online reviews about the firm.