If a person is charged with a crime in the court of law, he requires the services of a criminal defense attorney. The crime can be severe, felony or misdemeanor and depending on the gravity of the crime, and accordingly the punishment can range from a simple fine to community service, prison sentence and execution.
Considering that a conviction can have serious repercussions for the rest of the person’s life, it is important to select an attorney who has the experience and skill in fighting criminal cases. The U.S. Constitution allows all citizens of the United States to a fair trial and legal representation. If you are charge with a felony or misdemeanor, you should first know what a criminal defense attorney does. This will allow you to make an informed choice while selecting a criminal defense attorney.
The Importance of Criminal Defense Attorney
Criminal law is extremely complex as it involves both federal and state legislation. Each state in the U.S. has its own laws when it comes to defining crime and punishment for that crime. In general, crimes are considered state crimes, but there are exceptions when the crime involves federal employee or property.
A layperson does not have the knowledge of criminal law or of the justice system. This is the reason why many people charged with a crime end up with inadequate defense and are found guilty of the crime. While a person can represent himself during the proceedings, it often does not reap the desired results because of lack of knowledge and understanding. Poor legal representation can make a big difference, especially if a person has been charged with a felony. This is the reason why a knowledgeable and skilled criminal defense attorney is important.
Pre-trial Services Offered by a Criminal Defense Attorney
A criminal defense attorney offers not just assistance during the court case, but also during the pre-trial phase. Many people hire a criminal defense attorney if they are being investigated for a crime even though they have not been charged with it as yet. This usually occurs when a person is considered as a suspect in a crime and may feel that he could be charged in the near future. When you hire an attorney during the pre-trial phase, he will guide you how to answer when you are questioned by the law enforcement authorities. This prevents you from telling the authorities any incriminating information which could be used against you in the court of law.
During this period, the attorney may be able to convince the judge to drop the charges against you as the evidence could be insufficient or it may not have been collect using the right procedure. Also, if there was no probable cause for the arrest, but you were still arrested, a good criminal defense attorney will be able to challenge your arrest. If this happens, the charges will be dropped against you and the case will not proceed to the trial phase.
If you are arrested and detained till the trial, you can often be released on bail. Many courts order bail amounts to be high, as it works as a guarantee that you will turn up for the trial. During the bail hearing, a criminal defense attorney may be able to convince the judge to reduce your bail amount or even waive it completely.
A criminal defense attorney will also advise you on entering a plea bargain with the prosecutor if the chances of you being found guilty are high. This bargain can reduce the charges to a lesser crime or even reduce your sentence.
Services Offered by the Criminal Defense Attorney during a Trial
During the trial, a criminal defense attorney will evaluate your case and figure out the weaknesses and strengths in it. Based on this evaluation, he will draft a defense strategy. Thereafter, he will be involved in selecting the jury for the case, making opening and closing statements and questioning the witnesses. In case, you get convicted for the crime, the attorney will then prepare the grounds for appealing the conviction.
If you are charged with a crime or are a suspect in a crime, make sure you hire an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. Such an attorney should be willing to listen to your side of story and then prepare a defense strategy that will try and get you off.