If you are facing criminal charges, it is important that you work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can safeguard your rights and help you navigate the criminal justice system. This time in your life can be very scary, and an aggressive criminal defense lawyer can advocate for you every step of the way. Some of the most important ways that a criminal defense lawyer can help you include:
Explain Your Rights
If you are charged with a crime, you may be confused about the nature of the charges against you and how you should proceed. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can review the charges against you and explain your legal rights and options. A lawyer can answer any questions that you have and correct any misconceptions that you have about your case.
The criminal justice system is very complex, especially for someone who has never confronted it before. A lawyer can explain the possible sentence you are looking at if you are convicted of the offense and also advise you on what is standard practice in the type of case you are confronting.
Your attorney can also give you advice that is specifically related to your specific case. He or she can answer your questions about how decisions you make may impact your case. He or she can also advise you on the best way forward.
Fight the Evidence against You
Your attorney can take immediate steps to try to fight the evidence against you. For example, if police conducted an illegal search and obtained evidence against you, your lawyer can move to have the evidence excluded against you. Likewise, if you were stopped for suspicion of DUI and the law enforcement officer lacked reasonable suspicion to stop you or otherwise violated your rights, your attorney can try to fight evidence against you by filing pretrial motions or challenging its credibility in court.
Negotiate a Favorable Outcome
Even if you ultimately plead guilty, it is still better to have a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer on your side who can capably advise you of your options and negotiate a favorable outcome in your case. The prosecutor will not have much incentive if you plead guilty from the beginning, so your lawyer may prepare your case for trial even if you ultimately plead guilty to show that he or she is prepared to go the distance if necessary.
Your lawyer has a professional relationship with prosecutors and may be able to negotiate a favorable plea bargain on your behalf.In some situations, it may be better for you to accept a plea rather than try the case, such as if the possible penalty is severe, or if you may be able to minimize the impact of a conviction on your life through diversion programs. Without a lawyer’s assistance, the prosecutor will likely take advantage of your inexperience by offering you a steeper penalty than what you would have received with the capable help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Your lawyer can also explain how pleading guilty or no contest may impact your future, such as impacting your ability to obtain certain jobs, housing, or other benefits. Additionally, he or she can discuss whether you may be able to later petition to have your case expunged, based on your particular circumstances.
Represent You in Court
If you ultimately decide to go to trial, your lawyer can use his or her knowledge of the rules of criminal procedure and evidence to question the evidence against you and call into question whether the prosecutor has established your guilt by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Advocate for You during Sentencing
Your lawyer can also advocate for you during sentencing and present evidence to mitigate your sentence.