Why should you hire the criminal defense lawyer for your DUI case

Although there are so many legal matters which you can handle on your own such as overdue fines, small claim courts, parking tickets, there are others which you will require to consult a professional. DUI is one of the examples where the Utah criminal defense lawyer can assist you to get out of trouble. In Utah, driving while drunk is a serious crime which is punishable by law. In case you are arrested, then hiring a criminal defense lawyer would be the smart choice you will make. A professional Utah DUI lawyer will offer the required legal assistance which you cannot get from a general lawyer. The lawyer can assist you so that you can avoid being convicted for DUI.

What are some of the factors which can increase your likelihood of being convicted?

Proof of drunkenness– In case a police officer testifies that the speed at which you were driving your vehicle indicated that you were drunk. However, in this case, a chemical test must support the testimony of the officer.

High content of alcohol in your blood- In case you are tested and the level of alcohol content is found to be more than 0.08, then you have a higher likelihood of being convicted after undergoing trial. In Utah, you might receive brutal punishment for having a high alcohol content which is beyond the statutory level.

Steps the criminal lawyer will take during a legal process

  • Investing why you were arrested for DUI charges.
  • Validating blood test or breath which has been used to determine the level of alcohol in your body.
  • Analyzing all the instructions which are highlighted for the alleged results and field sobriety test.
  • Submitting the required legal documents.
  • Representing you in court
  • Assisting you to be released from jail by getting bail.
  • Challenging the police officers who might have violated your rights during the arrest.
  • Challenging any results received from the chemical tests of DUI.
  • Challenging the reliability and accuracy of field sobriety tests.
  • Pursuing for acquittal or dismissal.
  • Taking the necessary steps to prevent charges of your potential conviction.

How can you get out DUI?

For you to get out of a DUI you need a criminal lawyer to defend you in court so that the judge can dismiss your case. Some defense strategies can enable the judge to dismiss your case. For instance, the lawyer might find out the evidence is insufficient to prove that you committed the crime of driving while drunk. The lawyer can convince the judge to drop the charges. The lawyer can also place the judge in a position where the only reasonable thing will be to drop the charges.

Why should you hire the criminal defense lawyer?

i) They understand the Utah judicial system

One of the first reason why you should hire experienced criminal defense lawyers once you are found with DUI is that they understand how the entire functioning of the judicial system. The legal system might be confusing even to those individuals who are work in it. The lawyers in Utah can assist you in demystifying the process by offering a free step by step guide for the court proceeding for your case especially if it’s your first time to consult them.

iii) They can assess the conduct of the law enforcement

Even if you observe so many scenes on Facebook, media and TV, it’s difficult for you to understand the strategies that the law enforcements understand to obtain evidence in your criminal case. The best criminal lawyers in Utah can identify all loopholes and blinds concerning your DUI case. These lawyers can easily identify an instance where the police officers infringed your rights since they know the limits.

If there is inadequate evidence, your lawyer can ensure that you are dismissed.

Possible DUI defenses in Utah

i) There was no enough suspicion

The criminal lawyer will investigate the issues surrounding how and when the police officer stopped you to determine if it was legal for you to be stopped. In case the police officer stopped you illegally, then any evidence which will be obtained from that stop will not be accommodated. In Utah the law outlines that for a DUI stop to be legal, the officer must testify that you committed a traffic crime such as over-speeding or the officer must have enough suspicion that you are not okay due to your driving pattern. Normally if the Utah DUI lawyer can set up a successful challenge can you can be dismissed.

ii) Insufficient evidence that you were drunk

For you to be sentenced, the prosecutor must prove that you were under the influence on a controlled substance or alcohol. Despite the level of alcohol content, the lawyer can argue that judge should trust the eyes. This is because they know how a drunk person looks like and they may not know anything concerning how the breath test machine functions. In case the evidence given out has issues, then the lawyer will request for your case to be dismissed.

iii)The checkpoint for the DUI did not meet the standards

The laws in Utah as usually allow the police to conduct sobriety or DUI checkpoint, provided the roadblock meets certain standards which are highlighted on the constitutional. For instance, the standards usually necessitate a law enforcement agency to use written guidelines before coming up with a checkpoint. The guidelines must show how the checkpoint will be conducted and the kind of vehicles which will be stopped in that area. The lawyer will carefully review the operation of the DUI checkpoint to determine if it violated or complied with the important standards.

iv) The tests results were unreliable

In case the prosecutor uses the results of your urine, blood or breath test in court, the test must be administered appropriately using reliable equipment which is calibrated properly. The Utah DUI lawyer will scrutinize the method which was used in testing your urine, blood or breath to determine if the results were reliable and if there were any errors made.

v) You were not driving

Utah DUI law indicates that, if you are found in actual physical control of your vehicle then you might be charged. Such a situation has led to the arrest of many people even though they were not driving. In case you were not driving your car, the criminal lawyer can argue that you were not controlling your car physically when the police officer arrested you.

Reasons for hiring the best Auto Accident attorneys.

The most challenging situation of your life is being involved in a car accident as it can cause a lot of pain, sufferings, and inconvenience especially if the accident has been caused due to the negligence of the other person. As an accident victim, you are entitled to compensation from the negligent person so that it can cover the loss and suffering that you have to bear due to the accident. But most importantly, you will need to look for the best auto accident attorneys who will assist you with the legal matters in the most efficient manner. The attorney will help you in filing a claim with the insurance company so that you will not have to deal with this complicated situation. This is the best way of dealing with your injury because when the attorney will handle the case on your behalf, you will be able to invest your time for complete recovery after the accident. Securing the injury claim is also made possible with the assistance and guidance of an attorney who will help you in reviewing the legal options so that you can select the best option according to your situation.

After being in a car accident, you will need to hire the best auto accident attorneys because you need to get compensation for the serious injuries that you have suffered by you need to hire a knowledgeable and experienced attorney. This is the best way in which you will receive rightful compensation because an attorney will help you to get maximum amount of compensation. A competent attorney will also help you get compensation for the injuries that you have sustained as well as the damage to your vehicle so that you can use the money for recovery and repairs of the car. There are many benefits of hiring an auto accident attorney so that you will get compensation for the lost wages, expensive medical bills and deal with the damages caused to the car or personal property. A qualified and skilled attorney will have immense experience, so that he will be able to represent the accident victims and will also offer valuable assistance during claim process. The attorney will also assist you in protecting your best interests and for maximizing the amount of compensation that you are entitled to so that it will offer you complete peace of mind.

The reason for hiring auto accident attorneys is that these legal professionals have thorough understanding and in dept knowledge of the law relating to car accident so you will be adequately compensated after the accident. They will also gather all the required evidences and proofs that are needed for strengthening your case so that you will get the desirable outcome from the case. It is also the best way of getting fair settlement as the attorney will also handle the insurance claims on your behalf so that you will get money from the insurance company. The attorney will also strive to prove negligence of the accused person so that you will get compensation from the accused person and will prove elements of negligence that led to the accident. The attorney is also experienced in negotiating a fair settlement and will fight for your best interests so that you will get the maximum amount of compensation. The attorney will also help you with the insurance companies for making sure that you will claim for covering the damages so that you will get money needed for your complete recovery. You will get the best representation in the court by the attorney who are knowledgeable and skilled in handling the case so that you will not have to worry about the legal proceedings. Moreover, the attorney will also arrange for special medical examination for accessing your health conditions so that your best interests will be protected. You will get a detailed report by the medical professionals for the exact health problem caused after the accident so that you can seek compensation on the basis of this report. You will not have to worry about settling the case or seeking compensation because the attorney will do everything on your behalf so that you will receive the compensation that you truly deserve.

EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT CRIMINAL LAWYERS

The Criminal Lawyer Group is here to answer all of your questions about criminal lawyers and help you find the best criminal defense attorney for your specific case.

We represent defendants across the country in both state and federal criminal matters and government investigations.  Many defendants facing criminal charges are going through the criminal litigation or investigatory process for the first time in their lives.  Even if you have faced criminal charges or a government investigation in the past, you may still have questions regarding the charges you are facing today.

Defendants often ask us questions regarding:

  • how to find and hire the best criminal defense attorney;
  • what type of criminal defense attorney to hire;
  • the cost of representation for the specific charge;
  • whether a criminal defense attorney can defend someone they know is guilty;
  • what ethical duties an attorney has related to attorney-client privilege and confidentiality; and
  • what type of federal investigations and charges have we defended clients against?

Below, we will discuss all of these issues and more in an attempt to paint a full picture of what types of criminal defense attorneys are out there and which type of criminal defense attorney would be best suited to represent you in your specific criminal matter.

DEFINITION: “CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER”

A criminal defense lawyer is someone who has been admitted to practice law by the bar of a particular jurisdiction.  The “bar” of a particular jurisdiction is essentially an association that grants licenses to attorneys.  This license, like other professional licenses, gives an attorney the ability to practice their profession.

Specifically, criminal defense lawyers act as the legal representatives of a defendant in a court of criminal law.

Most importantly, criminal defense lawyers work on behalf of criminal defendants to achieve the best possible outcome for a defendant’s case.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Defend Someone That They Know is Guilty?

Yes, a criminal defense attorney can still defend someone that they know is guilty. That doesn’t mean they MUST defend someone that they know is guilty; private attorneys can refuse any case or client so long as they aren’t discriminatory.

There are several reasons why a criminal defense attorney might choose to defend someone that they know is guilty. For starters, attorneys are less concerned with what their clients did, and more concerned with what the government can prove they did. Their job isn’t to pass moral judgment, but to defend their clients to the best of their ability. 

Knowledge of guilt (or innocence) does not charge an attorney’s duty to work diligently in their client’s favor. Even in situations where the prosecution has an ironclad case against a defendant, good criminal defense attorneys still have a role to play. They can try to strike an agreeable plea deal, or fight to have felony charges reduced to misdemeanor charges.

What is Considered “Confidential Information” Between You and Your Attorney?

Just about anything you say to your attorney can be considered “confidential information.” That’s right: if you and your attorney discuss a legal matter, or anything relating to their representation of you as a client, he or she is almost definitely bound to keep that information private.

Attorney-client privilege and the confidentiality that comes with it is one of the most fundamental and important privileges provided to defendants in the United States legal system. It allows defendants to be as honest as possible with their attorneys, who in return can offer the best advice and legal counsel they are capable of providing.

There are only a few situations in which an attorney may use or share your confidential information, including:

  • to prevent someone else’s death;
  • to prevent you from committing a crime;
  • to secure legal advice from another lawyer, or to defend themselves and their colleagues against accusations of wrongful conduct. 

Rest assured that these extenuating circumstances are uncommon.  Attorneys are sworn to protect your confidential information, and they will do so in all but the rarest of cases.

Are Criminal Defense Attorneys Licensed For Their Specialty?

They can be, but they don’t need to be. Anyone who has been admitted to the bar in a certain jurisdiction can practice as a criminal defense attorney in that jurisdiction. If a Bar-admitted labor lawyer or immigration lawyer wants to switch paths and practice as a criminal defense lawyer, they can do so without receiving any further training or licensing. All attorneys can practice in all fields of law.

It is possible for criminal defense attorneys to receive certification in some specialties such as “criminal trial advocacy.” They might seek such licensing to show their dedication to criminal defense law and to ensure potential clients that they are experts. 

That being said, there are plenty of great criminal defense attorneys who lack official specialty certification. Almost all attorneys have a “specialty” of some sort, whether they receive certification or not. Just because an attorney lacks official certification as a white-collar crime specialist doesn’t mean they aren’t the best around.

What Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Do?

That depends on the circumstances of each unique case they choose to take, but generally speaking, a criminal defense attorney will do a lot of work for every client. Even in the simplest of cases, they do much more than just show up to the court to argue with the prosecution and make a case to the judge or jury. 

For starters, a criminal defense attorney will consult with you and discuss the specifics of your case. They’ll give you an idea of the consequences you’re facing, and suggest how they might be able to help. From there, if you choose to hire them, they’ll start working on your case. This can involve, but is not limited to:

  • interviewing eyewitnesses
  • selecting witnesses to bring to trial
  •  meeting with the judge or prosecution to discuss the case
  • compiling evidence in your favor, doing legal research into similar cases, and;
  •  motioning to have the entire case dismissed entirely. Before your case has even gone to trial, your attorney has done a lot of work on your behalf.

If the prosecution’s evidence against you seems unbeatable and you are willing to plead guilty, your attorney will fight to get you the most favorable plea deal possible. If your case goes to trial, your attorney will play a role in selecting the jury and then defend you to the best of their ability for as long as your trial lasts. Criminal defense attorneys do everything they can to achieve the best possible outcome for their clients.

How Much Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Make?

The most honest answer to this question is a rather unsatisfying one: it depends. The median pay for all US lawyers in 2018 was $120,910, but plenty of criminal defense attorneys make considerably more or considerably less than that amount.

Attorneys are often thought of as very comfortably wealthy folks, with expensive homes and luxury sports cars. Those attorneys do indeed exist, but so do the lower-middle-class ones who rent a sensible apartment and drive a used sedan. The reality is that there is no set amount of money that criminal defense attorneys make. Their pay depends on a number of factors, including:

  • location 
  • experience
  • specialization
  • size of firm
  • seniority within firm
  • private or public
  • pay structure (salary, bonuses, commission, etc…)

A first-year, solo-practitioner criminal defense attorney in rural Alabama might make $50,000 per year. Public defenders may make $70,000 per year but also receive a strong benefits package as government employees. A partner in a big law firm in New York City, who has been practicing for over 30 years and specializes in financial crimes, might make $5,000,000 per year.

How Much Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Cost?

Yet again, it depends. There is no set amount of money that a private criminal defense attorney might cost you. Some attorneys may cost $1,000, while others may charge you $20,000 (or more) for their services. There are two main reasons for the inconsistencies in cost: every attorney is different, and every case is unique.

An experienced, highly-skilled attorney will cost you considerably more than a brand new attorney with little or no experience under their belt. That isn’t to say that the most expensive option is always the best one, or that there are no great attorneys with reasonable rates. Just understand that an attorney’s experience, seniority, reputation, and skill level will affect the rates they charge. The specifics of your case will also have a major effect on the cost of your defense. For example: 

  • If you are charged with a simple misdemeanor that your attorney can handle in a day or two, they might charge you a flat fee of $1,000. 
  • If you are charged with several serious felonies that will require months of work, you might be charged an hourly rate that climbs into the $200,000 range when all is said and done. The best way to get an idea of how much your unique case might cost is to consult with a criminal defense attorney.

Does it Matter Which Criminal Defense Attorney I Hire?

If you find yourself asking this question, you should first ask yourself a few others:

  • Does it matter if you go to prison?
  • Does it make a difference if you spend seven years behind bars or just one?
  • Does it matter if you struggle to find gainful employment for the rest of your life?
  • Does it matter if you miss birthdays, graduations, and other important milestones in your family’s lives? Those questions may sound dramatic, but it’s important to understand that criminal charges are no laughing matter. 

If you choose the wrong mechanic, you’ll be out a few hundred dollars and need to go to another repair shop. If you choose the wrong personal trainer, you’ll be out a few hundred dollars and need to find someone who can get you the results you want. If you choose the wrong attorney, the lost money will be the least of your concerns.

Felony and misdemeanor convictions can ruin your life. Picking a criminal defense attorney is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make, so don’t make the mistake of thinking it doesn’t matter.

What is a Typical Day For a Criminal Defense Attorney?

There is no “typical day” for a criminal defense attorney. Their daily schedule will vary heavily depending on factors such as their current caseload and the specifics of the case(s) they are working on.

  • On a given day, a criminal defense attorney might go into the office early to check emails, make some phone calls, and catch up on some legal research. Then they might head over to the courthouse for a bench trial regarding a simple misdemeanor, which they win for their client in quick fashion. 

Without any other court cases that day, they might head back to the office for a consultation, a meeting with a current client, or to continue working on a case that’s going to trial the next week.

  • On another day, a criminal defense attorney might be in the courthouse from 9am to 5pm. On yet another day, they might not step foot in a courtroom and instead spend the whole day traveling around and meeting with potential witnesses for a big case. A criminal defense attorney’s typical day varies as much as the cases they work on.

How Many Hours Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Spend on a Case?

Every case is different, and they all require different amounts of time to resolve. Some simple cases, such as common and clear-cut misdemeanors, might never go to trial and only require a few hours of an attorney’s time. 

More complex cases, such as serious financial crimes or violent felonies, might require dozens or even hundreds of hours to resolve completely. Some cases go from investigation to resolution within a few weeks, while others may last years and involve periods of heavy activity and none whatsoever. An attorney might handle several cases in a single day or just one case for months on end.

If you want an idea of how many hours a criminal defense attorney might spend on your case, the best course of action is to consult with one.

How Do You Become a Criminal Defense Attorney?

Becoming a criminal defense attorney takes a considerable amount of time and effort. 

  • First, you need to obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. You don’t need to study pre-law or political science – you can major in any subject or field you desire.
  • Next comes the law school admissions process, which will involve taking the LSAT or GRE, writing some personal essays, and submitting your undergrad transcripts. You’ll need to get into, attend, and graduate from an ABA-accredited law school. 

You don’t need to take classes related to criminal law unless your school requires them for all students, but doing so would certainly help you in your future career. Once you graduate from law school, you’ll have a Juris Doctor degree under your belt. Congratulations on the achievement, but you’re not done yet! 

  • The final step is to be admitted to the bar in the jurisdiction where you want to practice law. This will involve passing the Bar Exam and being deemed morally fit to act as an attorney. Then, and only then, are you finally able to act as a criminal defense attorney. 

There are no further steps needed once you pass the bar. You don’t need specific certification as a criminal defense attorney, or licensed to practice criminal law. All attorneys can practice all fields of law.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A:

“Criminal Defense Attorney” v. “Criminal Defense Lawyer?”

Criminal defense attorneys have been admitted to the bar and can act as defendants’ representatives in court. These are the people who will stand by your side and defend you in a court of criminal law.

Criminal defense lawyers are formally educated in the law but are not necessarily admitted to the bar. They can give legal advice or do technical legal work, but they cannot act as representatives in court.

Note that, despite the distinction, these terms are mostly used interchangeably. If someone says they know a really good criminal defense lawyer, they are probably referring to someone who is actually an attorney.

“Criminal Defense Attorney” v. “Criminal Attorney?”

There is no difference between a criminal defense attorney and a criminal attorney. The two terms are interchangeable. Regardless of which term they prefer, people who carry either of these titles are bar-admitted attorneys who choose to practice criminal law.

“Private Criminal Defense Attorney” v. “Public Criminal Defense Attorney?”

A private criminal defense attorney is a privately-employed, bar-admitted attorney that defends and represents criminal defendants. They usually charge a fee for their services, but sometimes work free of charge as part of pro bono work.

A public criminal defense attorney is a government-employed, bar-admitted attorney that defends and represents criminal defendants. They are paid by the government of the relevant jurisdiction – usually the state – and therefore charge no fee to their clients. They are more commonly known as “public defenders.”

When considering whether to choose a private or public criminal defense attorney, keep in mind that public defenders are often overworked and underfunded.They may be highly-skilled attorneys with good hearts, but the reality of their job is that they probably can’t devote as much time to your case as a private attorney.

“State Criminal Defense Attorney” v. “Federal Criminal Defense Attorney?”

State criminal defense attorneys represent defendants of state crimes. They are admitted to the bar of the state where they practice and specialize in the state laws of their jurisdiction.

Federal criminal defense attorneys represent defendants of federal crimes. They must be admitted to the bar of a specific federal court before practicing in it. Generally speaking, these attorneys also have substantial experience as state criminal defense attorneys. They might seek admission to a federal bar for a single case, or they might specialize in federal cases.

“White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney” v. “Street Crime Criminal Defense Attorney?”

White-collar criminal defense attorneys deal with financially motivated, non-violent crimes generally committed by business or government professionals. Typical charges they might defend against include fraud, forgery, wage theft, money laundering, and embezzlement.

Street crime criminal defense attorneys deal with violent crimes generally committed by civilians in public places. Typical charges they might defend against include robbery, pickpocketing, vandalism, assault, and drug dealing.

Technically speaking, there is no formal difference between these two types of criminal defense attorneys. White-collar specialists can take on street crime cases, and street crime specialists can take on white-collar cases. The distinction lies only in the types of cases they tend to work on.

RESOURCES FOR THOSE CHARGED WITH A CRIME:

How Do I Find the Best Criminal Defense Attorney?

There are several ways to find good attorneys, but the key is to diligently look for an attorney who specializes in the crime or type of crime that you are accused of committing. 

  • Family, friends, or colleagues may be able to recommend someone they’ve been defended by in the past, or someone they know personally. Their advice won’t be of much help, however, if they recommend a traffic lawyer or divorce lawyer when you need a bonafide criminal defense attorney. 

Even if they recommend a good criminal defense attorney, make sure that the attorney specializes in cases such as your own. Your cousin might recommend you to the world’s best street crime attorney, but that doesn’t mean much if you’re being charged with a white collar crime.

  • Google can be a helpful resource for finding a local criminal defense attorney, especially if you include your specific charge as one of your search keywords. Keep in mind, however, that just because a certain attorney or law firm shows up first in search results doesn’t mean that they are the best around. A strong online presence does not necessarily equate to a strong courtroom presence. 
  • State bar association websites usually provide help finding attorneys, but keep the same advice in mind. Just because an attorney is the first one recommended by a bar association website doesn’t mean they are the right fit for you and your case.

Your best bet is to search around as if you’re looking to buy a new car. Call a few different attorneys, meet for a few consultations, and do as much research as you can into them. You don’t need to settle on the first attorney you talk to unless you are absolutely blown away by them. 

You’re looking for someone who specializes in the type of crime you are being charged with, who has a flat fee or hourly rate you can afford, and who can explain their plan of action in a way that you understand. This is a big decision, so take it seriously.

How Do I Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?

Once you’ve found a criminal defense attorney you want to represent you, you’ve gotten the hard part out of the way. Your next step is to ask them if they would like to represent you and what the associated costs would be. It’s not a guarantee that your first choice of attorney will accept your case. 

Attorneys can turn down any case, for any reason, so long as their refusal isn’t discriminatory in nature. Don’t take it personally if you get refused; it’s likely that your case just wouldn’t fit into their already busy caseload, or that they prefer working on different charges than those you have received. If your desired attorney would like to take on your case, you will need to come to an agreement on how to pay for their counsel. 

Some attorneys will bill hourly, while others will charge one flat fee. They might let you set up a scheduled payment plan, so the upfront cost isn’t insurmountable, or they might require an upfront retainer fee before they even begin working on the case. A good attorney will be transparent and helpful when it comes to paying and hiring them.

How Many Criminal Defense Attorneys Are There In The United States?

It is hard to say exactly how many criminal defense attorneys there are in the United States.

There are approximately 1.34 million attorneys as of 2018, and all of them are capable of practicing in any field of law they so choose. Since attorneys don’t need to obtain official certification for their chosen specialties, there are no reliable statistics on exactly how many attorneys primarily practice criminal defense law.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, in conjunction with its affiliates, has roughly 50,000 members. This gives us a rough idea that there are at least 50,000 criminal defense attorneys, but there is no way of telling where the upper bound might be. 

Rest assured, there are probably enough criminal defense attorneys in your area for you to find the perfect fit for your case. Whether there are 50,000 criminal defense attorneys in the US or over 500,000, all you need is 1 to act as your counsel and representative.

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS WITH OUR LAW PARTNERS:

What Happens If You Can’t Afford A Lawyer? 

You should know that if you cannot afford a criminal lawyer, just like they say on TV, one will be appointed for you. In the criminal justice system, unlike in other areas of the law, you have a fundamental constitutional right to an attorney.  

No one is ever going to be on their own without a lawyer if they are facing criminal charges. This is important to know because sometimes people think that they must hire a private criminal defense attorney.  

They also tend to believe that all private criminal defense attorneys are necessarily better than the free lawyer that might be appointed for them. This is sometimes the case but not always the case. It is true that court-appointed attorneys because they have such a high volume of cases to deal with, can be overwhelmed– and oftentimes that leaves the underfunded underrepresented as well.  

If you can afford a good criminal defense attorney privately then you should hire one period— but just because you have enough money to scrape together to hire a private criminal defense attorney it does not mean that you should.  

If you are hiring the cheapest lawyer that you can find, you might want to reconsider that decision and try applying to the court for either a legal aid attorney, also known as a public defender or in many states they have court-appointed attorneys.  

Court-appointed attorneys are slightly different from public defenders and legal aid attorneys because many of them also maintain private practices but they’re also authorized by the court to represent clients for a much lower hourly rate than they would normally charge privately and those fees are paid by the court, and through, the court system.  

So, if you cannot afford a criminal lawyer, it is not, or should not be, considered a serious option to represent yourself anytime that you are being questioned by police or under arrest or facing criminal charges or under criminal investigation.  

It can be more difficult to try to get a court-appointed or public defense attorney prior to formal criminal charges being levied against you. And that is because typically those free lawyers are only appointed at arraignment meaning after you have been arrested and processed and formal charges have been levied.  

If you are merely being questioned by police or under investigation you might want to consider hiring a private defense attorney because it should never be an option for you to speak directly to the government without some form of representation.  

So to answer the question, of ‘what happens if you cannot afford a lawyer in the criminal justice system’ the answer is, you will always have a lawyer in the criminal justice system and be careful with anyone in government or otherwise who tries to suggest that you should speak to them directly when under investigation unless you can afford a private criminal defense attorney.  

Call your local Bar Association or legal aid society or public defender’s office and let them know that you do not yet have any formal criminal charges pressed against you and have not yet been arrested but that you need representation and if they can’t represent you for free they can most likely refer you to an attorney who can represent you in a cost-effective manner up until such time as formal criminal charges are filed if that cannot be avoided.  

Once those formal criminal charges are filed you can then apply for a free court-appointed or legal aid society attorney. 

What type of federal investigations have you defended clients against and what federal agencies were involved? 

We’ve defended clients against investigations carried out by the: 

  • Local District Attorneys’ Offices (“DA”): We regularly handle cases with the district attorney’s offices of all five (5) boroughs in New York including the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, and the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office in Staten Island. 
  • New York State Office of Attorney General (“AG”): We have represented client’s on various charges and investigations carried out by the New York State Office of Attorney General. 
  • U.S. Attorney’s Office (“AUSA”): We have represented client’s on various charges and investigations carried out by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 
  • Securities and Exchange Commision (“SEC”): We have represented clients on investigations for insider trading as well as market manipulation that were headed out by the SEC in conjunction with a local U.S. Attorney’s Office. 
  • Office of Veterans Affairs (“VA”): We have represented clients during investigations headed up by the Office of Veterans Affairs for violations of federal laws relating to veterans or taking place on VA property. 
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”): We have represented clients for gun and drug possession charges and investigations headed up by ATF which is alcohol tobacco and firearms and the DEA which is the drag enforcement administration  
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”): We’ve dealt with the FBI on a number of cases.  They do have a rather wide jurisdiction, so we’ve done cases with the FBI or against FBI on cases involving child pornography, bank fraud, wire fraud and securities fraud. 
  • U.S. Post Office Inspector General (“OIG”): We have handled cases with the Office of the U.S. Postal Inspectors and while you may not think they do much, they actually do quite a lot.  They handle all cases involving interstate mail and pretty much all sorts of cases like drug sales or drug transportation, check fraud or bank fraud – yeah, all those cases are done through the Postal Service. 
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: We have represented clients on cases relating to wildlife animal exploitation like Joe Exotic headed up by Fish and Wildlife of course.

Can you describe a Supreme Court Case that impacts your practice of law? 

So, this is an excellent question and I actually thought a lot about which case is the most seminal in how the federal practice is now shaped and the case that comes to mind is: 

United States vBooker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005).

The Booker case is a Supreme court decision on criminal sentencing that was decided in 2005. This case made sentencing guidelines discretionary rather than binding.   

This gives federal judges a lot of latitude when taking into account the personal characteristics of an individual, the conduct in question, and what the individual’s role was in the conduct, in order to devise the appropriate sentence. 

Before this case, if your guidelines were let say around 30 years, the judge had to give you 30 years.  The judge had no leniency to go below the guidelines.  

The same is also applicable for cases where the guidelines don’t accurately reflect the seriousness of an individual’s conduct.  Although this is very rare, a judge is able to go above guidelines by explaining why the judge believes that the guidelines don’t accurately reflect the seriousness of the conduct that took place. 

I think, generally, the judges do stay within guidelines or go below guidelines.  Increased sentences above guidelines are exceedingly rare now because defense attorneys are able to explain to the judge who a client is as an individual with the hope that, in light of these 3553A factors, a judge gives a sentence that accurately reflects the seriousness of the offense as well as the nature and characteristics of the offender.   

If a judge is able to take these factors into consideration, he may be likely to hand down a sentence that is below the guidelines.  This is something that has helped make our practice a lot more flexible.  It’s a very good thing when the judge is able to look at individuals as who they are as people and not just hand sentences down based on what the guidelines required the judge to do.

Getting an Attorney to Handle Your Criminal Case

Reasons You Need an Attorney in Your Criminal Case | Browning & Long PLLC

Within the complex criminal justice system, a defense attorney serves as the defendant’s guide, protector, and confidant. (At least that’s how it’s supposed to be.) Defense attorneys are usually grouped in two camps: court-appointed attorneys paid by the government and private attorneys paid by the defendant.

Some criminal defendants can afford to hire a private criminal defense attorney. For those who cannot afford an attorney (approximately eighty percent of all criminal defendants), the court may appoint counsel to represent the defendant (assuming certain qualifications are met). These court-appointed attorneys are either public defenders who are on government salary, or they are so-called “panel attorneys,” local attorneys chosen from a panel. A small fraction of criminal defendants (approximately two percent) represent themselves and are referred to as “pro se” or “pro per” defendants.

What Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Do?

Criminal defense attorneys (private and court-appointed) research the facts, investigate the case against their clients, and try to negotiate deals with their adversaries (prosecutors). These deals might include reduced bail, reduced charges, and reduced sentences. Because of a number of factors—political and public pressure, overcrowded jails, overloaded court calendars—deal-making has grown in importance and has become an essential element in unclogging the criminal justice system.

Criminal defense attorneys also examine witnesses, help formulate a plea, analyze the prosecutor’s case, assess the potential sentences (and the likelihood of a particular judge awarding such a sentence), review search and seizure procedures, question witnesses, and gather evidence. Defense counsel can also advise on potential immigration consequences or other consequences of a plea, conviction, or criminal record.

Defense counsel also provide more personal services by giving the defendant a reality check as to the possible outcomes and by helping the defendant to deal with the frustrations and fears resulting from being thrown into the criminal justice system. And of course, if no plea deal can be made, the defense lawyer represents the defendant at trial.

Cost of Legal Representation

A huge factor when it comes to legal representation is the defendant’s financial status and whether the defendant can afford private counsel.

Private criminal defense attorneys charge either on an hourly basis (expect to pay $150 an hour or higher) or by a fixed or set fee. They are prohibited from charging contingency fees, which are payments that depend on the outcome of the case. If the defendant is indigent (cannot afford private counsel), the court may appoint a government-paid public defender or panel attorney.

Some—but not many—folks have enough money so that paying for a lawyer isn’t a financial strain. But arranging for legal representation often isn’t as straightforward for those who fall in between these groups of people.

The bottom line for judges is that the right to free (government-paid) defense counsel generally kicks in whenever an indigent defendant faces a jail or prison sentence. If there is no possibility of incarceration—for example, a judge states on the record that she will not sentence the defendant to jail time—then the defendant might not be entitled to free counsel (depending on state law).

Note that the right to free representation does not mean a right to the lawyer of choice. A defendant who’s been appointed counsel normally doesn’t get to pick and choose in the way that a paying defendant does.

Is a Private Attorney Better Than a Court-Appointed Attorney?

Why a Private Attorney is better than an Appointed Attorney | Gandhi Selim  Law, P.C.

Defendants sometimes believe that private attorneys possess a distinct advantage over the overworked public defender’s office or panel attorneys who are paid a minimum fee. But do private attorneys provide better representation than court-appointed government-paid defense counsel?

Many private attorneys are former prosecutors or public defenders. Based on studies that evaluate the outcomes of having a private versus court-appointed attorney, data seems to indicate that the results for defendants are often the same. For example, one study indicated that defendants represented by private counsel and public defenders fared similarly in conviction rates and sentencing (although those represented by panel attorneys fared worse). Such statistical evidence is not always reliable or clear because of complicating factors. For instance, clients represented by private counsel often have short or no prior criminal records, while indigent defendants are twice as likely to be repeat offenders. What is also unclear—and what creates one of the biggest uncertainties of the criminal justice system—is whether private attorneys can negotiate better plea deals than court-appointed counsel.

Ultimately, the experience, skills, and commitment of the particular attorney at hand—regardless of whether he or she is a public defender, panel attorney, or private lawyer—are the best indicator of the quality of the representation.

Self-Representation (Pro se)

What is clear is that being represented by a lawyer is almost always the best option. Nevertheless, some criminal defendants represent themselves. The decision of whether a defendant can self-represent is ultimately made by the judge, not the defendant. The judge is required to determine the defendant’s competency. That’s because a defendant who cannot provide a competent defense cannot get a fair shake, even if the defendant is adamant about not accepting the services of a court-appointed attorney. When determining whether a defendant can go pro se, a judge will consider factors such as:

  • the seriousness of the crime
  • the defendant’s language skills and education
  • whether the defendant understands the nature of the proceedings, and
  • whether the defendant is knowingly giving up his right to counsel.

Finding an Attorney

Derek Chauvin trial: Police fund aids defense lawyer Eric Nelson

When looking for a private defense attorney, look for an attorney who specializes in criminal defense and practices in the jurisdiction (city or county) where charges are pending. A local attorney will be familiar with the judges and prosecutors in that area. Learn more in our article on what to look for in a private criminal defense attorney. You can also find more information on our home page, www.criminaldefenselawyer.com.

If you don’t have the financial resources to pay for an attorney, you will typically need to ask for court-appointed counsel (before or at one of your first court hearings) and fill our paperwork on your financial resources. Learn more in our article on public defender representation.

HOW CAN A CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER DEFEND SOMEONE WHO’S GUILTY?

California Appeals Attorneys | Spolin Law

It’s an age-old question. High-profile cases in which seeming scoundrels are defended in court – and acquitted – turn the public against the lawyers who represented them. Or, when the public finds out a person was guilty and their lawyer knew it all along and still vigorously defended them, the reaction’s usually negative. California lawyer Stephen Feldman, who defended David Westerfield, convicted of murdering a seven-year-old girl, is a good example of this.

For a moment, put yourself in any defendant’s shoes. Let’s assume that you’ve gotten yourself in a legal scuffle, you’ve been charged with a crime, and you’ve hired a lawyer to defend you. In your heart of hearts, you know you’ve done something wrong – but you may not be guilty of the exact crime you’re being accused of. Of course, you’d rather not face the severe punishment the prosecution seeks.

Before you establish trust with your lawyer, you’ll be wondering two things:

  1. Does your lawyer think you committed the crime?
  2. Whatever your lawyer’s opinion is of your innocence or guilt, can he or she set that aside and defend you properly?

Talk to most criminal lawyers, and they’ll tell you that the answer to number one doesn’t matter. Most do not even want to know what you did. A lawyer’s job is not to know or decide guilt. The real issue is number two: can the lawyer defend you properly? This is because a lawyer’s true duty is to provide you with vigorous defense for the crime of which you’re being accused. For this reason, the most important thing when seeking criminal defense counsel is to find a lawyer who takes their legal responsibility seriously, and will do all they can to mount a thorough defense in your favor.

HOW CAN A CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER DEFEND SOMEONE WHO THEY THINK IS GUILTY?

Do You Have An Exit Interview Plan? - Career Intelligence

The answer is two-fold. First, there is a difference between “legal guilt” and “factual guilt.” Second, lawyers have a legal responsibility to their clients that they must uphold.

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN A TRIAL

The job of a criminal defense lawyer is to defend you against the charges that are presented. When charges are brought, there only has to be “probable cause” that you might have committed the crime. At trial, the prosecuting lawyer’s job is to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that you’ve committed the crime for which you’re being charged.

“Beyond a reasonable doubt” is a high standard intended to make conviction difficult – and rightly so, as the U.S. country operates by the idea “innocent until proven guilty,” an idea that, although not explicitly expressed in American law, originates from ancient law and is supported by the 5th, 6th, and 14th amendments to the Constitution. The government cannot deprive you of your life, liberty, or property until they’ve established your clear legal guilt.

Putting the burden of proof upon the prosecution means the point of trial is all about either proving or failing to prove that you’re guilty of the crime that’s been charged – not knowing whether or not you’re actually guilty.

WHAT “GUILTY” MEANS

In court, we distinguish between “factual guilt” and “legal guilt.” The issue of “factual guilt” is not being discussed in your trial – the question of whether or not you are actually guilty. What’s being discussed at trial is legal guilt: can the prosecution offer enough evidence to prove the charges presented against you “beyond a reasonable doubt”?

The reason most criminal defense lawyers won’t ask you if you’re actually “guilty” is that it’s not relevant to the case. Also, it’s not their job to find out. Their job is to defend you, and put up a fair case. As one attorney put it, their job is to “keep the system honest.” The way our legal system is structured, the court – judges and juries – find people responsible. Judges, not lawyers, hold the gavel.

BUT WHAT IF THE “TRUTH” COMES OUT?

An important condition to this issue is that even if a client admits “guilt” to his or her lawyer, a lawyer may never truly be certain the client’s guilty. The client could be lying to cover up for someone else, or other factors may be at play. There are standards in place to keep lawyers honest: they cannot lie if they do know information pertaining to their client’s legal guilt, and they also cannot offer evidence they know is false. But attorney-client privilege does protect communication between attorneys and clients. The critical thing to remember is, again, that it’s not the lawyer’s job to discern true guilt. The court decides this.

CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS MUST PROVIDE “ZEALOUS” REPRESENTATION

18 Secrets of Criminal Defense Attorneys | Mental Floss

Another reason that lawyers can defend people regardless of guilt is that our society gives each citizen the right to be vigorously defended in a court of law. The U.S. Constitution assures every citizen due process and the right to legal counsel.

Lawyers are bound to deliver this legal right to their clients. According to Canon 7 in the ABA’s Model Code of Responsibility, a defense lawyer’s duty to his client is to “represent his client zealously within the bounds of the law” because of his inclusion in a profession whose goal is to “(assist) members of the public to secure and protect available legal rights and benefits.”

Although popular culture may detest the work that criminal lawyers do, their function is vital in order to maintain justice and ensure fair outcomes for anyone up against legal charges. Criminal defense lawyers are simply doing their duty to defend a citizen whose rights are protected by the U.S. Constitution and cannot be easily taken away.

10 Must-Have Personality Traits Of A Good Criminal Defense Lawyer

6 Qualities Of A Good Criminal Defense Lawyer | Attorney at Law Magazine

If you are charged with a crime, you probably need an attorney.  Here are some of the essential attributes to consider and decide whether the criminal defense attorney fits your case.

Essential Qualities

1. Knowledge

The more serious the crime, the more careful you must choose.  For example, if you are charged with felony murder, then you want an attorney with more than 10-15 years experience, you want an attorney who has litigated murder cases before, and you want an attorney who only practices criminal law.  If you are charged with a drinking and driving offense, a generalist is fine and probably less expensive.

2. Confidentiality

Being charged with a criminal offense is a serious matter, that should be kept private.  You should not discuss the matter with your friends, and choose very carefully who you will confide in – if anyone.  When you speak to your attorney, be careful what you say and do not say.  Your attorney will guide you carefully in the conversation.  If your attorney wants details about a particular aspect of the incident, give precise detail.  If your attorney tells you that details are ot wanted – do not give them.  While your attorney cannot disclose any information told in confidence, an attorney cannot stand by and allow the client to testify falsely under oath.  There are things your attorney may not want to be communicated for that reason.

3. Negotiation Skills

It is critical that the criminal defense attorney you choose has strong intuitive negotiating skills.  You can judge negotiating skills by paying attention to whether your attorney listens carefully to what you are saying.

4. Perseverance

Command of the facts, as well as of the law is a basic necessity before an attorney can do the best job resolving your criminal matter.  Every aspect should be considered.  If there are witnesses, they should be spoken to.  Discovery from the State should be aggressively pursued, and when received, should be thoroughly reviewed and discussed with you.  It takes perseverance.

5. Aggressiveness

A criminal defense attorney has to be aggressive.  This does not mean being loud and pushy, or being a “shock jock”.  Prosecutors are aggressive.  They have the power of the State behind them.  They know the judges.  Often, they practiced with the judges as so many judges are former prosecutors.  Your attorney must stand up to the prosecutors and threats of the State.  “Standing up to” prosecutors have to do with being prepared. It is not the only a command of the facts and law that are necessary but also knowing the range of potential for outcomes.  The standard for a criminal conviction is “beyond a reasonable doubt”.  This is a daunting standard – and can be effectively used against the State when negotiating with prosecutors.

6. Communication Skills

Pay attention when you meet with your criminal law attorney.  Does the attorney listen to what you are saying?  Does the attorney ask you relevant questions?  Does the attorney give you the information in a way that you understand?  If the answer to any of these questions is NO, then you need a different attorney.

7. Commitment

You need to select a defense lawyer who is committed and take about the outcome of the case. Does your attorney communicate with you?

8. Integrity

Criminal lawyers must have integrity. Your lawyer should have open and sincere conversations with you about what the possible outcome of your case will be.  Of course, your attorney can not predict the outcome.  Certainty is not possible in any legal proceeding.

9. Experience

You need to select a lawyer who is experienced in handling criminal cases.  Experience is one of an attorney’s greatest assets.  Make certain your attorney has experience.

10. Ratings And Reviews

Check your attorney’s Google and Yelp reviews online.

Conclusion

Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys in Bellflower | CA Federal Crime Lawyer

When choosing a Criminal Defense Attorney, you must check the lawyer possesses the above qualities. Ensure that the lawyer is certified and is dedicated to securing your rights.

At Paré & Associates, LLC (formerly Law Office of Alice Paré, we have been helping clients in Germantown, Gaithersburg, and throughout Montgomery County for more than thirty (30) years. We know what the court will consider and what actions you can take and are here to help you through this difficult time.

Our attorneys are available to meet with you in person, over the phone, or online – however, you prefer.

What to look for in your Calgary Criminal Defense Lawyer? | Attorney at Law  Magazine

If you are ready to consult with an attorney, or just need some questions answered, contact us here, go online to schedule an appointment, or call us for more information.

10 Tips to Help You Find the Best Criminal Defense Attorney

Meeting with Criminal Defense Attorney

If you already understand the importance of having an excellent attorney when you’re facing a criminal charge, the next step is finding the best criminal defense attorney to represent you. Not all lawyers are created the same, and finding the right attorney can make all the difference when it comes to putting up the best defense possible.

Taking the time to seek out the best defense attorney can ensure you are represented in the best light possible when you go to court. Although the process of searching for a lawyer can seem daunting, especially when dealing with the repercussions of a criminal charge, this is arguably one of the most important steps of the entire case. Here are ten tips to help you find the best defense attorney.

1. An Attorney Should Be Responsive

When you’re facing a criminal charge, time is of the essence. Time lost is a case lost. You need a criminal defense attorney that’s going to get to work on the case right away.

When you contact a lawyer, they should respond quickly. Their legal team should be able to arrange a meeting with you within one day. If they’re quick to answer to your phone call or email, they’re probably going to be equally on the ball when it comes to defending you.

2. The Right Attorney Specializes in Criminal Law

Although they don’t have to practice criminal law exclusively, the right attorney at least specializes in criminal law. If you don’t see anything on the attorney’s website about criminal law, it’s likely that they’re not the right lawyer for your needs.

The practice of law is just that — practice. Your attorney needs regular involvement in criminal law to stay up to date on the nuances of this type of law and the best possible defenses.

3. Choose Someone Experienced in the Local Courts

In addition to finding a lawyer that’s qualified in criminal law, you should look for an attorney that’s experienced in the local courts. This aspect of deciding on the right attorney is one that is often overlooked, but local connections and relationships can go a long way when fighting a criminal charge.

Not only does each court do things their own way, but each judge does things their own way too. Knowing the ins and outs of the court you’re up against can help you create a winning strategy for your case.

4. Check Reputable Sources

You can learn a lot about an attorney on the internet. Some of these sources are reputable, and some are not. You can check the State Bar of Nevada to see if a lawyer has any formal discipline on their record. This is a good place to start, but your research shouldn’t stop there.

Some websites like Google+ and Facebook don’t let attorneys remove bad reviews, so these websites can be a good place to look at what other clients have to say. Other sites help attorneys paint a rosy picture. While you don’t want to count an attorney out because of one bad review, reading reviews can give you a general idea of what other clients have to say about them and their services.

5. Ask for Referrals

One of the best ways to find the right attorney for you is asking your friends and family if they know any good lawyers. Those with first-hand knowledge of how an attorney operates can help offer you insight into how they will handle your case.

Also, if you use a lawyer for business or estate planning matters, you can ask them who they recommend for a criminal case. Word of mouth can be a great way to get an honest opinion especially when the person you’re asking wants what’s best for you.

6. The Right Attorney Knows the Basics Off the Top of Their Head

An attorney doesn’t have to know everything without having to look things up, but they should know the basics of the most common crimes. They should be able to explain to you the possible and likely penalties for the charges against you.

They should know the questions to ask you to determine if nuances apply to the case. The best criminal defense attorney has a certain level of familiarity and comfort with the laws and the criminal justice system.

7. Look for a Clear Fee Structure

The best defense attorney doesn’t want confusion about their bill. Instead, they’re going to explain in simple terms how they bill and give you an idea of what you can expect regarding their fees for services and the total cost of your defense.

Understanding Criminal Defense Attorney Fees

The least expensive lawyer isn’t always best. Instead, you should ask what their services include and make sure that your attorney is up for mounting a vigorous defense.

8. Gauge Their Enthusiasm

Some attorneys work harder than others. You will want a lawyer that conducts a thorough investigation. They should go to trial when it’s best to go to trial, and they should encourage you to accept a plea offer only when it’s really in your best interest. When it’s time to decide whether to go to trial or accept a plea, the right attorney can articulate what choice they feel is in your best interest and why.

The way to find this attorney is to look for enthusiasm. While your attorney should be experienced, the number of years of experience isn’t everything. The right attorney has a certain level of sincere interest in their work, and they must be eager to dive into your case on your behalf.

9. They Have Courtroom Confidence

One type of experience that matters is courtroom experience. Criminal trials move fast. Sometimes, your attorney has mere seconds to make an objection that could impact the outcome of the case. Make sure your attorney has enough experience to know the court rules and have confidence and comfort in a court hearing.

In this regard, you can judge a book by its cover. If an attorney has a neat appearance and is well-spoken when you meet with them, they’re likely to be the same way in court. The attorney you choose speaks on your behalf. When you meet, you should like the way they present themselves, because they’re going to be speaking for you.

10. They Take Direction From You

Ultimately, your criminal charge is yours to defend. Your attorney should control the specific methods of mounting your defense like filing court motions and what witnesses to call, but the big decisions are up to you.

It’s up to you to decide if you plead guilty or go to trial. Your attorney should take the time to understand your goals and priorities and take them into account when they’re helping you make your action plan.

Contact us for more information.

Representing Yourself in a Civil Case: II. Deciding Whether to Represent Yourself

Information about what to expect if you decide to represent yourself in court.

Do I have to have a lawyer or can I represent myself?

You have a right to represent yourself in court in a civil case. If you choose to represent yourself, the court will hold you to the same standards as if you were a lawyer.

Some cases are simple and straightforward. Others are complex and difficult. You need to consider the complexities and specific issues involved in your case and what is at stake for you when deciding whether to go ahead without a lawyer. If you find, as your case proceeds, that representing yourself is too difficult, you may have the option at that time to hire a lawyer to represent you.

What should I consider before deciding to represent myself?

How hard it will be to represent yourself depends on your individual case. Many people have successfully represented themselves. Others have gone to court and found that their case was more complicated or that the court process was more difficult than they expected.

These are some things to consider when deciding whether to represent yourself:

  • Are you good at completing paperwork? For example, do you complete your own income tax forms? In most cases, there are forms to be completed. In addition, there are times when you must tell the court what you want in a written document called a “motion.” You must create these written documents without the court’s assistance. All forms and documents filed with the court should be easy to read – typed if at all possible – and must comply with court rules.
  • Are you good at meeting deadlines? Courts run on a schedule. You will need to meet the court’s deadlines. Regardless of your other commitments, including your job, your childcare arrangements and other personal responsibilities, you must appear in court whenever you are scheduled to do so. If you do not comply with court deadlines and court procedures, there will be consequences and you may lose your chance to have your case heard by the court.
  • Are you comfortable speaking in public? You will need to be able to tell your story in a formal setting in front of other people. The judge, the opposing party, or his or her lawyer, may ask questions and challenge your version of events. Some issues are very emotional, and you will need to remain calm.
  • Do you have written documents or witnesses to help you present your story? You need to gather all documents related to your case, organize them and bring them to court. You will also need to prepare your witnesses to testify.

There are complex rules of evidence that govern whether you can present this information in court, and if so, how to present it.

  • Are you prepared to spend time looking things up in a library or on the Internet? Most cases require learning about the law, procedures and rules. You may need to do research on a wide variety of issues, including whether your problem is one the court can help resolve and how to present your case to the court.
  • Does the other side have a lawyer? Lawyers are trained professionals. Many spend years learning how to present cases in the courtroom and studying the law. Although you may be able to handle your case, if the other side has a lawyer, it may be more difficult for you.

What if the other side has a lawyer and I don’t?

In a civil case it is not unusual for one side to have a lawyer while the other side does not. If you do not have a lawyer but the other side does, you need to understand these things about that lawyer’s role:

  • The lawyer’s responsibility is always to his or her client, that is, the other party. The lawyer must do what is best for his or her client.
  • It is not the other side’s lawyer’s responsibility to help you with your case. In fact, the lawyer for the other side should not give you any advice except to get your own lawyer and is not allowed to tell you what he or she thinks the judge will do.

The lawyer should not pressure you or suggest that you take any particular action. Do not rely on advice from a lawyer who is representing the other side.

This does not mean that the lawyer for the other side cannot talk to you. The other side’s lawyer will have to talk to you in order to represent his or her client. He or she can express an opinion, argue for a particular outcome and try to negotiate a settlement. You are always free to disagree. If you feel pressured by the lawyer on the other side, you should tell the judge. 

Representing yourself when the other side has a lawyer can be intimidating, especially if the case goes to trial. Be aware that in many civil cases, there are ways to resolve a case without going through a trial. You can get a third party involved to help you and the other side resolve the case. This could be a probation officer, housing specialist or other person who works for the court, depending on what court you are in and what type of case you have. It could also be someone from outside the court, if the parties agree. You and the other side might decide to take advantage of alternative dispute resolution services, commonly referred to as ADR services. See Section X: Settling the Case.

Can I hire a lawyer to handle part of my case?

In some circumstances, it may be possible for you to hire a lawyer to handle only part of your case. In a few of the courts, lawyers are permitted to provide “limited assistance representation.” Limited assistance representation means that the client and the lawyer have agreed that the lawyer will perform specific tasks on the case, but the client will be responsible for other tasks. For example, the client and the lawyer may agree that the lawyer will provide legal advice on one or more issues, or will prepare or review certain documents – but that the lawyer will not go to court or assist the client in other ways. The client and lawyer also may agree that the lawyer will appear in court for one or more events, but not for the whole case.

In courts where limited assistance representation is permitted, it still may not be suitable in a particular case. If you are considering hiring a lawyer to handle only a portion of your case, you should check with a lawyer to find out whether it is allowed and whether it makes sense in your case.

10 Tips to Help You Find the Best Criminal Defense Attorney

Meeting with Criminal Defense Attorney

If you already understand the importance of having an excellent attorney when you’re facing a criminal charge, the next step is finding the best criminal defense attorney to represent you. Not all lawyers are created the same, and finding the right attorney can make all the difference when it comes to putting up the best defense possible.

Taking the time to seek out the best defense attorney can ensure you are represented in the best light possible when you go to court. Although the process of searching for a lawyer can seem daunting, especially when dealing with the repercussions of a criminal charge, this is arguably one of the most important steps of the entire case. Here are ten tips to help you find the best Las Vegas criminal defense attorney.

1. An Attorney Should Be Responsive

When Should You Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney? - eLawTalk.com

When you’re facing a criminal charge, time is of the essence. Time lost is a case lost. You need a criminal defense attorney that’s going to get to work on the case right away.

When you contact a lawyer, they should respond quickly. Their legal team should be able to arrange a meeting with you within one day. If they’re quick to answer to your phone call or email, they’re probably going to be equally on the ball when it comes to defending you.

2. The Right Attorney Specializes in Criminal Law

Although they don’t have to practice criminal law exclusively, the right attorney at least specializes in criminal law. If you don’t see anything on the attorney’s website about criminal law, it’s likely that they’re not the right lawyer for your needs.

The practice of law is just that — practice. Your attorney needs regular involvement in criminal law to stay up to date on the nuances of this type of law and the best possible defenses.

3. Choose Someone Experienced in the Local Courts

In addition to finding a lawyer that’s qualified in criminal law, you should look for an attorney that’s experienced in the local courts. This aspect of deciding on the right attorney is one that is often overlooked, but local connections and relationships can go a long way when fighting a criminal charge.

Not only does each court do things their own way, but each judge does things their own way too. Knowing the ins and outs of the court you’re up against can help you create a winning strategy for your case.

4. Check Reputable Sources

You can learn a lot about an attorney on the internet. Some of these sources are reputable, and some are not. You can check the State Bar of Nevada to see if a lawyer has any formal discipline on their record. This is a good place to start, but your research shouldn’t stop there.

Some websites like Google+ and Facebook don’t let attorneys remove bad reviews, so these websites can be a good place to look at what other clients have to say. Other sites help attorneys paint a rosy picture. While you don’t want to count an attorney out because of one bad review, reading reviews can give you a general idea of what other clients have to say about them and their services.

5. Ask for Referrals

One of the best ways to find the right attorney for you is asking your friends and family if they know any good lawyers. Those with first-hand knowledge of how an attorney operates can help offer you insight into how they will handle your case.

Also, if you use a lawyer for business or estate planning matters, you can ask them who they recommend for a criminal case. Word of mouth can be a great way to get an honest opinion especially when the person you’re asking wants what’s best for you.

6. The Right Attorney Knows the Basics Off the Top of Their Head

Free Attorney Timesheet Templates (2021) - Excel, PDF, Word

An attorney doesn’t have to know everything without having to look things up, but they should know the basics of the most common crimes. They should be able to explain to you the possible and likely penalties for the charges against you.

They should know the questions to ask you to determine if nuances apply to the case. The best criminal defense attorney has a certain level of familiarity and comfort with the laws and the criminal justice system.

7. Look for a Clear Fee Structure

The best defense attorney doesn’t want confusion about their bill. Instead, they’re going to explain in simple terms how they bill and give you an idea of what you can expect regarding their fees for services and the total cost of your defense.

Understanding Criminal Defense Attorney Fees

The least expensive lawyer isn’t always best. Instead, you should ask what their services include and make sure that your attorney is up for mounting a vigorous defense.

8. Gauge Their Enthusiasm

Some attorneys work harder than others. You will want a lawyer that conducts a thorough investigation. They should go to trial when it’s best to go to trial, and they should encourage you to accept a plea offer only when it’s really in your best interest. When it’s time to decide whether to go to trial or accept a plea, the right attorney can articulate what choice they feel is in your best interest and why.

The way to find this attorney is to look for enthusiasm. While your attorney should be experienced, the number of years of experience isn’t everything. The right attorney has a certain level of sincere interest in their work, and they must be eager to dive into your case on your behalf.

9. They Have Courtroom Confidence

One type of experience that matters is courtroom experience. Criminal trials move fast. Sometimes, your attorney has mere seconds to make an objection that could impact the outcome of the case. Make sure your attorney has enough experience to know the court rules and have confidence and comfort in a court hearing.

In this regard, you can judge a book by its cover. If an attorney has a neat appearance and is well spoken when you meet with them, they’re likely to be the same way in court. The attorney you choose speaks on your behalf. When you meet, you should like the way they present themselves, because they’re going to be speaking for you.

10. They Take Direction From You

Ultimately, your criminal charge is yours to defend. Your attorney should control the specific methods of mounting your defense like filing court motions and what witnesses to call, but the big decisions are up to you.

It’s up to you to decide if you plead guilty or go to trial. Your attorney should take the time to understand your goals and priorities and take them into account when they’re helping you make your action plan.

Trust Your Instincts

With so much on the line, it’s worth the time and effort to find the right defense lawyer for you. You can do a lot of the research online, but you need to meet with them in person too. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Even though it’s important to take the time to find the right lawyer, it’s also important to work quickly to protect your interests.

Proving It Was Self-Defense and Not Assault

When someone is prosecuted for assault, they will often claim they were acting in self-defense against another aggressor. In fact, it’s quite common to see self-defense in news stories about people accused of seriously injuring or even killing another person.

For example, in so-called “stand your ground” cases in which someone kills an intruder, the defendant may say they feared for their life and were forced to use a weapon to protect themselves.

If you’ve been charged with assault, it’s important to know that the defense of self-defense can be more complicated than you might realize. Proving you acted in self-defense is much more involved than simply stating as much in court. This is why it’s important to discuss your case with an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer.

What Is Assault?

First, it helps to know what counts as assault under Texas law. Under the statute in Texas, a person engages in assault when they:

  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to someone, including a spouse,
  • Intentionally or knowingly threaten another person with imminent bodily injury, including a spouse, or
  • Intentionally or knowingly cause physical contact with another person when they know or should have reasonably believed the other person would find the contact provocative or offensive.

Under this definition, many different types of behavior can qualify as assault. For example, threatening someone with a baseball bat can be assault even if you don’t actually make contact with the person’s body. Under the law, it’s enough to threaten the person with imminent bodily injury.

Similarly, grabbing a co-worker in a sexually suggestive or violent way or making unwanted touches can rise to the level of assault.

When Is Defending Yourself a Defense to Assault?

When Is Defending Yourself a Defense to Assault?

People who grew up with siblings or those who got into scuffles on the playground might remember a parent, teacher, or principal warning that the person who throws the first punch is the one who gets in trouble — even if the other person “had it coming.”

Generally, this is also true in cases of assault. In most cases, it doesn’t matter how awful or offensive the other person was acting. When the police arrive on the scene, they will typically arrest the person who instigated the assault by throwing a punch or brandishing a weapon.

However, it’s different if the other person brandished a weapon first. In that case, throwing up an arm to protect yourself is self-defense, even if you accidentally strike the other person in the process.

Likewise, you can probably also make a case for self-defense if the other person came at you with arms swinging. If a fist was flying at your face, you have a legal right to protect yourself.

What Do You Need to Prove Self-Defense?

Each case is different, and every case has its own unique set of facts. However, there are several things courts look for when someone has claimed they acted in self-defense in an assault case.

  • Fear of bodily harm – The court will look for evidence that the accused had a reasonable fear that they stood to be physically harmed in some way. The standard calls for an analysis of whether a “reasonable” person would have assumed they were in physical danger at the time of the assault.
  • Imminent threat – If someone believes there is an imminent threat of death or serious injury, they can argue that they acted in self-defense. However, it’s important to note that the threat must be imminent.

    For example, you can’t claim self-defense if you drove to someone’s house and picked a fistfight with them after they threatened you over email three days ago. It’s also not self-defense if the other person begins to assault you, stops their assault, and then you retaliate. When the assault stops, you no longer have a need to defend yourself.

It’s also important to remember that you can’t use disproportionate force when acting in self-defense. If someone comes at you in a bar with a baseball bat, you can’t whip out a flamethrower to defend yourself. Your level of responsive force must be equal or lesser than the level of force the other person is using or threatening.

Use of force is sometimes an issue in cases involving police officers who claim self-defense in police killing or injury cases. In many of these cases, an officer runs afoul of the law by shooting someone who may have threatened the officer but didn’t have a weapon at the time of the shooting. These cases can be controversial for several reasons. Additionally, they tend to involve complicated fact patterns that illustrate just how difficult it can be to successfully argue you acted in self-defense.

I’m guilty, so why do I need a lawyer?

Criminal Defense Attorney Tyler, TX - TLC Law, PLLC

The biggest mistake many defendants make is simply not talking to an attorney. The prosecution must not only prove that you committed the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, a very high burden, but it must do so within the confines of the law, such as by following the Texas and U.S Constitutions, the rules of evidence, the code of criminal procedure and so on. The prosecution can meet this high burden in many cases, which explains why the vast majority of criminal cases plea out, but are you sure your case is one of these? An attorney could very well discover that you have a defense you didn’t know about, that the evidence you think is damning isn’t, that certain evidence could be thrown out, etc. Every case is different, of course, but without talking to a criminal defense attorney you might be missing a valid argument in your favor.

Even if, after talking to an attorney, you’ve decided that a plea agreement is in your best interest, not all plea agreements are created equal. A plea agreement should work for you and your situation. There are many different tools the trade attorneys know, especially those who practice in the area, and this can make a huge difference in your unique situation. For instance, perhaps serving on the weekends is an option, or probation would be too difficult if you move to X county, or perhaps your risk of violating probation makes a short jail stint more enviable. There is no one-size-fits-all option and an attorney can work with you and the prosecution to get the best result.

Can anything be done before I’ve been charged?

Choosing The Best Criminal Defence Lawyer – Librairie Climats

If you were arrested and released on bond, you might be surprised to find that the government (the prosecution) has a great deal of time, if it wishes to use it, to charge you for the offense. Generally, the State of Texas has two years from the offense date to charge for misdemeanors, and three years for many felonies, and some crimes have an unlimited time frame to charge, such as murder and sexual assault of a child. So, you might be out of jail for quite some time before charged via information or indictment (done through a grand jury). In that time you don’t have to sit on your hands and wait. A criminal defense attorney can still be of service even at this stage.

The prosecution may be willing to offer pre-trial diversion, which is probation that, if completed, precludes the filing of a charge in the first place. An attorney can also be helpful in getting your side of the story across when it appears law enforcement is under some misconception as to the facts. Even if an attorney cannot prevent a charge from being filed, he can be a valuable teacher and apprise you of what could happen once you are charged. Just knowing what could happen and what you’re up against is extremely important for your peace of mind in such a troubling time. And last, but certainly not least, an attorney can tell you what rights you have and can advise you want to do…and what not to do.

Post-conviction services

Post-Conviction Relief Miami - Criminal appeal lawyer | Gallardo Law Firm

After conviction, defendants can still sometimes benefit from a criminal defense attorney. Those on probation could try for early release if they’ve completed all conditions of probation. Those who were on deferred adjudication (probation that if completed leads to no conviction), will need what is called an order of non-disclosure to get the arrest and deferred adjudication finding off their record.

Those on parole can face serious consequences if facing revocation and could benefit from an attorney.
And those whose charges were dismissed can try to get the arrest off their record through a petition for expunction of criminal records.

Resources

Texaslawhelp.org is helpful for those that want help with their criminal record (expunction, order of non-disclosure, etc.). I cannot vouch for the forms, as TLC Law is not affiliated with Texas Law Help and it is an organization focused on helping those that don’t/can’t afford an attorney.

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