Criminal charges often trigger the question of whether to hire a criminal defense attorney. Hiring an attorney is a significant decision with life-changing consequences. Even before you get to choose the best attorney, you have to decide whether you need one. The San Diego Criminal Attorney explains some of the reasons why you should hire an attorney.
Understanding of the Law
One of the significant advantages of hiring a defense attorney is for his or her knowledge of the law. Attorneys have spent years in school learning about the law, and more years working in the legal field.
They specialize in different areas of law and are skilled in handling cases in that area. If you were to defend yourself, you would need to understand these laws and their effect on your case.
Criminal defense attorneys are trained and skilled in providing legal defense to clients facing criminal charges. They are aware of the laws surrounding your defense and the possible paths to take when maneuvering the criminal justice system.
The law also derives from other statutes, which could lead to additional charges and penalties. Without an understanding of such related laws, you stand a slim chance at successfully defending yourself. However, your attorney can identify all the possible angles in a case and prepare for these scenarios.
When hiring an attorney, you need to ascertain that he or she is knowledgeable about the specific type of law. For example, if you are an immigrant facing criminal charges, you need an attorney who has an understanding of immigration and criminal law.
The understanding criminal attorneys have of the law differs from one firm to the next. Therefore, you need to be careful to choose one whose knowledge will work to your advantage.
A good measure of how knowledgeable an attorney is comes through asking questions. Seek answers to different issues you need clarification. Notice how well the attorney packages his or her answers.
Do they answer the questions you have? Is the attorney a good listener? Do you feel confident about the answers they give? Is there a one-size-fits-all solution with your attorney?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you can safely hire an attorney who will fight for your rights.
Understanding the Criminal Justice System
In addition to understanding the law, defense lawyers have an understanding of the criminal justice system. This understanding is developed from years of working with prosecutors, judges, the police, and other attorneys.
Such an attorney understands how individual prosecutors, police, and investigators approach their cases. Such knowledge allows them to apply unique approaches to every case, depending on the prosecutors, the arresting officers, and the judge.
Attorneys also develop close working relationships with these professionals. He or she can then leverage these relationships to negotiate a better outcome in your case.
Hiring an attorney allows you to leverage this knowledge, expertise, and relationships in your case. You, therefore, stand a better chance at fighting the charges against you.
It might be odd to ask an attorney how many people he or she knows in the criminal justice system. However, you can check online reviews from previous clients. You can find these reviews on the attorney’s website or third-party websites.
In addition to these reviews, ask how many years the attorney has been in practice. The more years the attorney has practiced, the more exposure and understanding he or she has of the criminal justice system.
Your attorney works closely with a team of legal experts to handle investigations, research, and filing paperwork. Also, lawyers have knowledge, time, and fiscal resources to dedicate to your case.
These resources are vital in finding the best angle from which to approach your case. The many hands working on various aspects of the case enables the lawyer to dedicate his or her time in developing a winning strategy.
When choosing your defense attorney, start by conducting interviews with different firms. Visit their offices. Ask about the defense team that will deal with your case.
Criminal defense attorneys have more time to dedicate to their cases. Public defenders do not choose their workload. Therefore, they tend to be overworked. They have less time to dedicate to individual cases. Thus, a public defender might easily miss critical details that make the difference between a conviction and acquittal.
The heavy workload of public defenders have does not mean that all are unprofessional. Public defenders have probably tried more cases than private attorney has. Some of them will provide a solid defense to their clients.
However, they have a lot of work, which limits the client-attorney time available to them. They might not meet with you in person as often as a private attorney would. With such heavy workloads, they might miss important details of the case as well.
However, you need to be careful when hiring a private attorney. You should be comfortable with the attorney you select and have faith in his or her work.
They Know the Common Mistakes
The police and investigators make mistakes in their cases. They fail to either follow procedures or violate your rights during their investigations. Your lawyer will use these mistakes to challenge the evidence the prosecution has.
For example, if an officer arrests you without probable cause, he or she is violating your rights. Your attorney can quickly identify this mistake by reading the police report of interviewing the arresting officer. He or she can then challenge the lawfulness of the arrest.
Other mistakes by the police include:
- Forcing a confession
- Conducting an illegal search or seizure
- Falsifying reports
- Planting evidence
Clients also make mistakes during their court appearance, which could damn their chances at trial. However, an attorney will advise you on the best dressing code and your conduct outside and inside the courtroom.
Some of the common mistakes include:
- Posting the details of their case on social media either to seek advice or just in oversharing their lives. Social media has the power to incriminate you or blow your case out of proportion. Most investigators nowadays can turn to social media to determine your character and conduct. For example, if you are accused of committing burglary, and you post pictures of yourself committing the offense, you will have a hard time convincing the court that you are not guilty
- Sharing incriminating details with the police during or after your arrest: when arrested, most people mistakenly believe that an officer will release him or her based on the information you give. Most people, therefore, make the mistake of confession or admitting guilt to the officer. In worst cases, some engage in other offenses such as bribing a law enforcement official
- Disrespecting the court by showing up late, failing to honor your obligations, or attending court in casual clothing. Your conduct in court gives a leaves a great impression on the court and the jury. Your attorney will advise you on how to dress, how to address the court or raise a concern professionally
With an attorney working on your case, you will get important valuable on your conduct. He or she will also inform you when your behavior is likely to upset the court.
Handling the Paperwork
Hollywood makes court cases look straightforward. However, it involves filing a lot of paperwork. An error in filing could cost you your case. It could delay your case, or you could lose the case.
When you hire an attorney, he or she will file the necessary paperwork on your behalf. The attorney understands the legal process of filing any paperwork. Therefore, it takes less time than when you do it yourself.
In some cases, you need to file the right paperwork within the required timeline. Missing critical deadlines damns your case. It affects your credibility, and in some situations, you lose the chance to defend yourself.
Perhaps the most crucial role your lawyer plays is developing a defense strategy. The defense strategy determines the legal defenses and techniques you will apply to fight the charges.
First, criminal defense attorneys are familiar with the common defenses applicable in different situations. They can then develop a solid strategy using these defenses.
The attorneys also understand the common loopholes of using different strategies. They can then develop a strategy that addresses these weaknesses and utilizes the shortcomings of the prosecution's case.
Defense attorneys have handled cases similar to yours or have the resources to access such cases. They can then use the stronger defenses in your case with positive results.
Creating a defense strategy involves more than preparing the legal defenses. It includes interviewing witnesses, subpoenaing evidence and witnesses, and consultations with various experts.
For instance, if you are accused of vehicular manslaughter, your attorney can contact an accident reconstruction expert to help in determining what might have happened during the accident.
Most attorneys have developed analytical and logical thinking skills. These skills help them in identifying the possible arguments that might feature in a case. With such information, your attorney can come up with different plans for the defense. These plans will be used in case the others fail.
When you read articles online, you might feel ready to defend yourself and get the best outcome. However, real-life works differently. Having an attorney will help you understand these issues and deal with your case better.
Your attorney will educate you about your rights. When arrested, most people do not understand the rights they still have. Therefore, they can give up information that incriminates them and further takes their rights away.
However, with an attorney, you know your rights and can reinforce them. The attorney can also use any violations of your rights to create a defense strategy.
Your attorney will also advise you on the importance of various decisions, motions, and strategies in your case. He or she can provide crucial information about how a case might turn out and the legal options you have. With an attorney’s advice, you will know when to accept or reject a plea deal.
When most people represent themselves, they tend to take the first offer made, usually at arraignment, with the wrong belief that it is the best. However, as an attorney would advise you, taking a guilty plea at arraignment denies you the opportunity to review the evidence against you.
Your attorney’s advice is also important in simplifying the case you are facing. When facing charges for an offense, it might be difficult to understand what the charges entail. Different crimes have different elements.
When these elements exist, then you are guilty of the offense. Your attorney will explain the charges you are facing in simple language you can understand. With such knowledge, you are better positioned to fight for your rights.
They are Good Negotiators
Most of the criminal cases are resolved during the pretrial phase. This phase features serious negotiations between the prosecution and the defense.
In this stage, the attorney examines the evidence the prosecution has against you. He or she will then identify weaknesses, misconduct, and facts that the prosecution overlooks. These loopholes will help the attorney negotiate the best possible outcome.
Your lawyer will negotiate a reduced sentence, suppression of evidence, or file a motion to challenge the conduct of the arresting officer.
If you take upon yourself the task of representing yourself, you will miss important opportunities to fight the charges.
If you hire an attorney earlier, he or she could negotiate with the prosecution to prevent the filing of charges. For example, if you were arrested for driving without a license, your attorney can speak with the prosecution to allow you some time to get a valid license. Therefore, you will avoid the charges.
The success rate an attorney has had in resolving past criminal cases could point to their negotiation skills. A good negotiator will often get a good deal for the client.
Having an attorney representing you adds professionalism to your case. The attorney can act with the required professional manners in court. Examples of situations that professionalism works for you include:
- Having the right paperwork filled at the right time
- Having evidence and important information available and organized for easy access during a criminal proceeding
- When investigating witnesses
A professional attorney is available to handle your case whole-heartedly. He or she understands the workload and should refuse or accept new tasks. The time available to dedicate to your case is one of the reasons you should hire a private attorney.
Some of the key pointers to a professional attorney include:
- He or she returns calls promptly
- The attorney is willing to listen to your side of the story
- The attorney responds to your questions knowledgeably and in a respectful manner
- He or she has excellent communication skills
- Your attorney enquires about your case to provide important information that informs a defense
- The attorney is courteous when dealing with you and other clients
Your first interaction with an attorney can point towards how well he or she will handle your case. However, if along the way, you feel the attorney is not a good fit, then you can change the attorney.
A professional attorney is one who dedicates him or herself to defending clients regardless of guilt. In cases where an attorney chooses not to defend you, then he or she will maintain confidentiality. An attorney who discloses any confidential information that you share is unprofessional.
Hiring an Attorney Saves You Time and Money
Criminal cases take a very long time to complete. Usually, they last for more than a year. Such time could be dedicated to other matters such as your employment or business. If you are in school, then you can concentrate on your studies while an attorney deals with your criminal case.
Your attorney also saves you time by filing the necessary paperwork at the right time (timeliness matters in a criminal case). Therefore, a delay in filing paperwork or evidence slows your case down.
Hiring an attorney an expensive; however, attorneys offer value for your money by keeping your best interests first.
For example, if he or she gets your case dismissed, you will not have to spend money on fines and other financial penalties attached to a conviction. Even when you are convicted, your lawyer can negotiate for reduced fines and penalties.
If you choose to represent yourself, you will spend a lot of time learning the basics of the offense, filing paperwork, conducting legal research, and defending yourself. These tasks are both time and money consuming.
Find a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Hiring an attorney is a crucial decision everyone has to make when facing criminal charges. If you are struggling with the decision, remember that hiring an attorney allows you to tap into the knowledge, networks, skills, and resources that your lawyer has. You do not have to go through learning the relevant laws, filing paperwork, or negotiating plea deals. In fact, with an attorney, you will proceed with your regular life as much as possible. Your attorney will handle legal matters as they arise, hence saving you a lot of time and money. You will also have peace of mind knowing that someone is working for your benefit. The San Diego Criminal Attorney is a private criminal defense law firm with years of experience and resources in providing defense services to clients. Consult us today at 619-880-5474.