THE IMPORTANCE OF A CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY

The criminal justice system has many players, each with specific roles. The prosecutor’s goal is to enforce the laws by convicting offenders and ensuring they are sentenced to certain penalties. The judge is supposed to serve as a neutral decision-maker. The defense attorney is the individual who protects the rights of the defendant.

Under United States law, all defendants have important rights, including:

  • The right against unreasonable searches and seizures
  • The right to remain silent
  • The right to reasonable bail
  • The right against double jeopardy
  • The right to a speedy trial
  • The right to a jury trial (in most cases)
  • The right to examine witnesses
  • The right against cruel and unusual punishment
  • The right to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty

One of a defendant’s most important rights is that too legal representation under the Sixth Amendment. The law does not require a defense attorney, but neither police nor prosecutors may deny representation to any defendant who chooses to invoke this right. If a defendant cannot afford to pay for a private attorney, the government must provide a public defender.

The Importance of a Criminal Defense Attorney

Role of a Criminal Defense Attorney

Defense attorneys serve many purposes and can often greatly improve the outcome of a case. They work to ensure that courts do not wrongfully convict defendants or impose excessive sentences for convictions. However, an attorney does a lot before the case ends.

A defense attorney will work to protect your rights throughout a case by:

  • Being present during police interviews and interrogations
  • Arguing in court to reduce your bail to a fair amount
  • Advising you about your options of how to plead and the implications of a guilty plea
  • Interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence regarding the allegations
  • Closely examining the circumstances of any searches by police and of your arrest to identify any Fourth Amendment violations
  • Examining the results of any chemical tests (common in DUI and drug-related cases) and ensuring the police or forensic lab technicians did not make any errors
  • Determining which legal defenses may apply in your case
  • Representing you at all scheduled court hearings
  • Discussing the possibility of a plea bargain with the prosecutor, which may involve agreeing to plead guilty to lesser charges or to receive a lesser sentence
  • Helping you decide whether to plead guilty or take your case to trial
  • Representing you at a jury trial
  • If you are convicted, representing you at sentencing and arguing for a fair sentence

Benefits of Having A Criminal Defense Attorney

There are many reasons to hire an attorney these days as the world sees more and more litigation and the world becomes more perilous. Gone are the days that minor infractions or liabilities might be overlooked, or thrown out in court. Most people today realize that if there is evidence law was broken, it will probably end up in court.

Luckily, the criminal justice system is built upon a solid foundation of case law and constitutional law. This is where a good criminal defense attorney is crucial.

For instance, the United States Constitution provides overall protections to every citizen under the Bill of Rights to not incriminate yourself (the 5th Amendment). However, the application of this basic civil right is nuanced by the level of case law that backs it up, as well as a client’s specific legal situation. A great criminal defense attorney has spent years researching, studying, and applying the law to the point where that knowledge becomes wisdom. Wisdom is the strategic application of knowledge, and in the case of criminal law, the wisdom will be used to mount a robust defense on your behalf.

The Top 7 Benefits of Being a Lawyer

A Good Attorney Will Save You Time & Money In The Long Run

Great criminal attorneys also save you money. It seems like the opposite when asked to deposit a hefty retainer fee for the service you are to receive. However, realize that you are purchasing the use of the attorney’s wisdom and resources to help fight your case. You are paying for someone else to become an expert in a subject and using their skill to make legal decisions that can affect you or a loved one, the rest of your life.

A Good Attorney Keeps You Out of Jail & Knows When To Avoids Fines, Fees & Costs

When it comes to saving you money, a good attorney will help you stay out of jail and therefore allow you to work and make income. Your attorney should also be proficient at avoiding any unnecessary fines and fees and processes by knowing the court system. They should keep your case moving forward with diligence and work to minimize any financial penalties you may incur. All of this will very likely be way less expensive than trying to manage the complexity by yourself.

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A Good Attorney Provides A Unique Level Of Support & Insight

Finally, a good criminal defense attorney will provide technical and emotional support. This is important to remember. Typically, your attorney will know more about your case than close family or friends, just because of their level of involvement. They will get to know your goals and your fears. They may know things that you don’t want your family or friends to know, and it’s helpful to have that open communication with someone who has made a promise to keep your information confidential. There is a great deal of credibility and support built into that retainer fee, and lawyers are paid to do a very job. When the person most involved in your legal case can provide ‘good news’ or give you an honest assessment of your situation, your path forward becomes clearer and you gain confidence in what may lay ahead.


Know the Benefits of Contacting a DUI Lawyer

Driving can be exciting and fun, but driving under the influence of an intoxicant is not so thrilling. Have you been ever chased by the cops or caught with a DUI (driving under the influence) offense? If it is, then take a deep breath and contact a DUI lawyer. A DUI lawyer can help you to get rid of these situations. A good DUI lawyer has the necessary experience as well as the required skill to defend you in court in the most effective ways. There are a lot of highly skilled and experienced DUI Lawyers in Miami who can be hired at the time of your requirements.

What are the Benefits of Hiring a DUI Attorney? | Wichita, Kansas

9 Reasons for Hiring a DUI Lawyer
You will get several advantages by hiring DUI Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale. Here, we are about to discuss some of them. So, you can have a look at them:

A Lawyer can Ease your Mind:
It is quite difficult for a person to deal with the stress of DUI arrest and its probable conviction. Most people don’t have any idea regarding the criminal justice system as well as the rules and regulations extended by it. Moreover, if you are facing trouble with the law for the first time, then you are also unaware of what to expect. In this situation, it is so common to be worried and anxious about the future of the DUI case. An experienced DUI lawyer can help you to cope with your fears. By hiring a DUI lawyer, you will know that there is someone who can provide you comfort.

Preserve all the Legal Evidence:
Sometimes, jurisdictions order the video evidence of your arrest and also mandate for the breathing test. If there is a blood test, then your blood sample will be kept legally a few times. A good DUI lawyer must be aware of the acts that have to be filed not just to protect the evidence, but also to ensure that the evidence doesn’t get damaged or lost in the process. The DUI lawyer can also inform you regarding the importance of evidence that you might not be aware of.

Detailed Scrutiny of the Case:
A lawyer who has specialization in DUI cases will go through the case critically to find out the particular evidence that will prove valuable in the case. Furthermore, a good lawyer will also try if it can be shown that the cop behaved unreasonably while arresting you. Remember, there are several innocent people dragged into the court without any valid reason. By getting in touch with a DUI lawyer, you can also enhance the chances that you are not incarcerated for little or no reason.

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A Proper Investigation of your Case:
Mostly, there are some witnesses or onlookers who have to be interviewed for the case. It doesn’t whether they are civilians or law enforcement members, an experienced lawyer will investigate all the facts that surround your arrest. So, by hiring a DUI lawyer, you will be able to prepare a defense team for you when the charges are filed. Furthermore, an onlooker or the witness might forget the details of the particular incident. At this moment, a lawyer can help them to provide the correct information in court.

Avoid Permanent Criminal Record:
If you are arrested for driving while alcoholic, then it can also destroy your professional life. Driving while being drunk is a crime that can stay on your record for at least 6 years. So, a mistake committed once will continue to trouble you for a long span of time. At that period of time, you also face trouble getting a job, as some employers check the criminal records of their candidates before providing the job. So, if you are arrested for driving while drunk, you will need to hire a DUI lawyer without wasting any time.

Prevent the Loss of Driving Licence:
Once you are arrested for drunk driving, your driving license might be canceled by the cops. A good lawyer can help you to prevent the driving license from being dismissed. Furthermore, a lawyer also will try to reduce your punishment by using all the evidence. Even if you are convicted of a DUI offense, then still an experienced DUI lawyer can help you to keep the driving license.

Advice and Seek Special Court Orders:
The advantage of hiring an experienced DUI lawyer is that they know DUI as well as traffic laws in detail. They are also able to suggest any special court orders in order to prevent you from going to jail. Having a better insight into the laws allows the DUI lawyer to look outside the square to seek supplementary penalties that may result in fewer obstructions in your life.

Character References:
An experienced DUI lawyer can provide a well-written character reference to the court. It can give the court a great insight into who you are and what type of character you have. Sometimes, it happens that some people provide very badly written character references and Judges rarely give much weight to them. So, a good DUI lawyer can help you to prepare the best character reference that packs the most punch in your favor.

Good Relationship with Police and Judges:
A good DUI lawyer who has specialization in this field tends to have a good relationship with the cops and Judges. That means they know the attitudes of the Judges towards these types of cases. So, they have the idea of what works and what doesn’t work in the eyes of the Judge. It can be beneficial for you to hire a DUI lawyer who has inside knowledge of the court, prosecutor, and Judge.

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Sometimes, the idea of contacting a DUI lawyer dawns on a person months after imprisonment. But, some of the important evidence might go missing by that time. Moreover, there might not have been any progress with the investigation of your case. After passing a considerable amount of time, the expected result of the case also might become immaterial. So, if you have just found yourself under a DUI offense, get in touch with DUI Lawyers West Palm Beach as soon as you can.

BUILDING A STRONG ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP

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WHAT ARE SOME FACTORS YOU CONSIDER TO BE IMPORTANT IN DEVELOPING A STRONG ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP?

I think maybe the biggest thing is taking all the time that is necessary. Just like in any relationship, a good relationship, trust, or rapport, develops with time. You’re not going to get a good rapport with someone who is only willing to give you ten minutes.  You need to be spending a lot of time at every phase.

There has to be great communication, there has to be easy communication. From being able to get a hold of a person, and getting a response within a reasonable time, to them really giving you their time in person or on the phone.

Part of building a rapport is having someone who’s really willing to listen. But,  there’s a flip side to that too. You also want to find someone who’s going to give you tough love and who’s going to give you strong advice. You want someone who you respect as a client because the attorney gives it to you straight.

When individuals hire a private defense attorney,  they are putting their hard-earned dollars towards trying to defend a case and they’re paying for the experience, they’re paying for an opinion, and they’re always entitled to hear the truth from their lawyer. They’re always entitled to hear what the lawyer thinks and sometimes that’s not going to be what they want to hear. But you definitely don’t want someone who’s just going to tell you what you want to hear and at the end of the process, when the outcome is bad say, well, it’s the judge’s fault or it’s someone else’s fault. You want someone who gives you that balance of listening but also using a firm, experienced hand in guiding you.

HOW DO YOU STRIVE PERSONALLY TO BUILD A STRONG ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP?

11 Ways to Build and Maintain Strong Client Relationships - MBO Partners

I like to spend a lot of time with people from the beginning. I like to spend as much time as I need with them talking. I then tell them, and I think I prove it to them through my actions, that they’ve got access to me 24/7. They’re going to have my cellphone number from the beginning of the representation. They’re going to have ready access to me all the way through the process, that’s part of building a strong rapport.

I really listen to them, which I think is a skill a lot of attorneys don’t bring to the table. I’m always wanting to know what their objectives are, what their goals are, what are they worried about, what are their anxieties.  And then I do my very best to give them an honest assessment, to select the best tools and the best tactics, and also to give them some comfort in letting them know,  hey, you’re not the first person to have faced this situation, this is not the first time I’ve faced the situation, and there is some predictability to this process here.  We can forecast a range of outcomes.

I think that just by giving people more information, as much information as you can, that really builds a rapport. That’s what I always strive to do so that a person always feels like I kept them informed, and always knew what was coming. That they were never surprised by anything and that I had listened to them so that I had the best opportunity to do everything that I could to achieve the best possible legal outcome in their case.

Benefits of Hiring Criminal Defense Lawyers Everyone Should Know

Hiring a Criminal defense lawyer? Look for these qualities!

Unlike video games, life may not give you a second chance. In the same way, you get only one chance to fight criminal charges. According to the Pennsylvania Commission of Crime and Delinquency research, the average yearly criminal incident sentenced by the courts between 2012 and 2016 was 98030. There were 97,762 guilty pleas on 891,266 dispositions during the 5 years. These numbers show the importance of hiring the best criminal defense lawyer.

The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world. If you live in Pennsylvania, especially in Erie, the Erie criminal defense lawyers should be your first choice to defend your criminal case. Whether you are accused of a drug crime or tax evasion, relying on a court-appointed attorney is like playing with your life.

When facing a criminal charge, the first thing you need to do is find the best criminal defense lawyer. But why should you hire a defense lawyer when the court appoints you one? Here are 10 benefits of hiring a professional defense lawyer that you should know.

1. They Know the Criminal Justice System Inside and Out

Professional criminal defense attorneys spent years studying and practicing law, and they understand how to handle the various charges of any criminal case. They find out how the law can help to defend the case more strongly. They are always up-to-date with all the changes in the legal system and laws.

They thoroughly study your case and also analyze the charges for the possibilities of failures. They are also transparent about all the possibilities instead of giving you false hope. They have the experience of defending similar cases and know what steps should be taken.

2. They Help You Understand the Whole Process

The legal system can be challenging to understand, especially when each state has different laws and legal procedures. That’s why it is essential to hire a professional defense lawyer who will explain to you every tiny detail of your case.

They will also prepare you at every step of the case, from questioning by the police to how your case will proceed in the courtroom. Their guidance will help you eliminate any confusion you might have regarding the procedures and reduce your stress.

3. They Handle All Your Case Paperwork

Handling all the paperwork for a legal case is a crucial task. One missing document can have catastrophic consequences. It takes experience and exceptional attention to detail while filing various documents related to the case, such as multiple forms and applications.

An experienced defense lawyer knows which forms need to be there and how to fill them up correctly. They will take care of all the paperwork and know where, when, and how to submit them. They will ensure there is no mistake in the paperwork.

4. They Will Help You Consider All the Available Options

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In many cases, the accused have the options to choose how the case will move forward. An expert criminal defense lawyer can help you weigh various options, from negotiations, the types of charges to the potential options for plea deals.

They can also negotiate other options like reducing the charges and penalties and possible dismissal of the case. You have the option of whether the case should go to trial or accept the deal offered by the prosecution. Your lawyer will help you to understand the consequences of each option.

5. They Will Give You Personalized Attention

When you are charged with a criminal offense, it can feel like your world is ending. You may feel like everything is going against you, but your professional defense lawyer will always have your back. They will be there to talk about anything related to the case and to support you throughout the case.

6. Your Money Will Be Spent in The Right Place

Hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer can be a little expensive, but it is worth spending that money. A criminal case can make or break your future and have some problematic consequences. Their expertise will also help you to avoid spending money unnecessarily, hence saving your money. 
Your lawyer will ensure your case is handled with utmost attention and efficiency. It will expedite the whole process and help to get things back to normal for you. Most law firms also provide a free consultation for your case.

7. They Help To Protect Your Future

A criminal case can leave a significant impact on your future, depending on the criminal charges. You can face jail time for years or high penalties and fees if you are convicted. Sometimes, the outcome can also affect your future employment possibilities and where you can live if you have certain criminal convictions like sex offenses. 
An expert defense lawyer will do whatever they can to protect your future by keeping your record clean. In some circumstances, your lawyer may be able to have your case dismissed or at least have the conviction expunged from the records. Your lawyer helps you to consider various options in your case that will help you to lead a normal life.

8. They Will Handle The Discussion On Your Behalf

Your criminal defense lawyer will act as your spokesperson and take care of all the prosecution and law enforcement discussions. These discussions are sometimes heated, but your lawyer will do what’s best for you and your case by keeping calm and saying the right things.
A good rapport between the prosecution and the attorney ensures the negotiations are handled most professionally. They also know the local judges and create their strategies for your case according to the judge.

9. They Can Examine the Evidence Better

An expert criminal defense lawyer will protect you from any illegally gathered or tampered evidence. They will also call out any witnesses who have altered the truth or point out any weaknesses in their statements.

10. They understand the Regional Laws and Court Systems.

West Midlands Criminal Defence Solicitors

Every state in the United States has its legal system and distinct set of laws. Many of the states have different rules of their own. That’s why it makes sense to hire professional Erie criminal defense lawyers if you live in Erie. They understand the local court system and also have experience in fighting cases in your region. 
Fighting a criminal case is a life-turning event. It’s best to hire a professional to get the best outcome. Hiring an experienced defense lawyer to defend your case will increase the possibility of winning the case. 

Tips on How to Market Your Criminal Defense Attorney Practice

Criminal Law Practice Areas - Wasatch Defense Utah Criminal Lawyers

Every day, countless people search for criminal defense lawyers. While that sounds great on paper, competition for clients can be vicious. If your legal practice doesn’t appear near the top of the first page of search results online, you’re not very likely to be noticed. So, how do you ensure that you’re reaching potential new clients?

You need a solid marketing strategy to acquire clients. Not only do you need your name to appear at the top of online search results pages, you also want your name getting out to prospects via word of mouth. Potential clients need to see you and be able to trust you before they contact you.

Here, we’ll cover some strategies for criminal defense attorney marketing that will help you get noticed and turn more prospects into real clients.

1. Build a User-Friendly Website

The internet is generally the first place people go when they need a criminal defense attorney. Your website becomes the first impression you leave with potential clients. 

You want to present the right image and deliver a compelling message. It’s no different than when you step in front of the jury. An aesthetically pleasing, user-friendly website that provides valuable information will make all the difference.

2. Create Quality Content

Creating high-quality content that provides visitors to your website with useful, relevant information helps to boost your authority as a criminal defense attorney. Create blog posts or videos that answer some of your most frequently asked questions, discuss factors that could affect court proceedings, or cover changes in the law. Be sure to update content regularly. 

3. Optimize for Organic Searches

Just having a website and a blog isn’t enough to help you rank higher in the search engine results pages. You also need to rely on search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. 

To boost your SEO using digital content:

  • Research keywords related to your practice and incorporate them naturally into your content.
  • Include location-based keywords to boost organic local searches.
  • Place keywords strategically within your webpages, title tags, metadata, and blog content.
  • Write blog posts that expand upon specific search queries.

Your website’s user-friendliness will also affect traffic; make sure it loads quickly and is mobile-friendly. Also be sure to update your Google My Business (GMB) page; verify your listings, accurately fill out the information, and include images of your practice, yourself, and anyone else who works with you to humanize your law firm — completing GMB will also make you more likely to show up on Google Maps.

4. Encourage Reviews

Never be afraid to ask your current and previous clients to leave reviews on Google or other review sites such as Yelp. When searching for lawyers, people base their decisions on what other people have to say. While not everyone will leave a glowing review, garnering mostly positive feedback helps to build trust. How you respond to negative reviews will also make a difference in how potential clients view your practice. 

5. Generate Word-of-Mouth Recommendations 

People talk. Even in the digital age, sometimes word-of-mouth recommendations are the most effective. 

Suppose someone needs legal advice about a DUI. They talk to one of your previous clients. The previous client had an excellent experience working with you, so they recommend you — earning you new business. 

There are other old-fashioned ways of getting your name out there:

  • Attend free networking events and bring your business card to hand out.
  • Host a free lecture or series of lectures.
  • Take on pro-bono work or volunteer your services.
  • Participate in community events, which can also help to get backlinks and improve your SEO.

6. Get on Social Media

Social media offers a powerful way for businesses to establish and build their reputations. Using platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter helps you share information with a broad audience and attract potential clients to your website.

Posts don’t have to be directly promotional; you can share snippets from your blog or video posts, ask questions to encourage engagement, or share something related to criminal defense law. Be sure to post regular updates and interact with your followers. 

Get Your Criminal Defense Practice Noticed

10 Tips to Finding the Best Criminal Defense Attorney | Half Price Lawyers

When it comes to marketing for criminal defense lawyers, having a website and maintaining active social media profiles are excellent places to start. But competition for legal clients is stiff, and a solid, ongoing marketing strategy is a must if you want potential clients to find and contact you.

To up your game and learn more tips on how to successfully market your criminal defense practice, visit our services page today. 

What Can I Do To Help My Criminal Defense Attorney With My Criminal Case?

Being charged with any crime—even a traffic offense or misdemeanor charge—can have serious consequences regarding the sentence you could face and your life in general. Even if you are guilty of the crime you are accused of committing, there may be defenses that could result in the charges against you being dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense. You need to do everything you can to minimize the potential negative outcomes of your arrest. How do you do this? One way is to do whatever you can to help your criminal defense attorney defend you.

Ways You Can Help Your Criminal Defense Attorney With Your Defense

Even when you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney, you cannot expect him to successfully defend you without your cooperation and assistance. You and your attorney are a team, and you can do many things to help him or make his job harder by not following his advice or making mistakes. If you want a successful outcome in your case, follow these guidelines:

  • Tell him your goals. As your attorney investigates your case and keeps you informed about possible outcomes in your case, be clear on your goals with him and what would be acceptable. For example, if you are willing to accept a plea agreement, you want to be certain that he knows this. Informing your attorney of your goals can help him shape your defense and to work toward achieving an outcome that you are willing to accept.
  • Talk about cost. Hiring experts or an investigator and taking depositions costs money and time. While you want the best possible defense, you also need to be realistic about what you can afford and should communicate this to your lawyer.
  • Be honest. You need to be 100 percent honest with your attorney if you want him to prepare the best defense for you. Answer his questions truthfully and thoroughly. Remember that attorney-client privilege protects your conversations with your attorney and that he has a duty to fight the charges whether or not he knows that you are guilty. By being honest with your lawyer, you avoid him discovering surprises that could hurt your defense and that could prevent him from giving you an honest evaluation of what could happen in your case.
  • Do not talk to the police. The police are looking for statements or other information from you that they can use to strengthen their criminal case. If you have any information to disclose to the police or the prosecutor, you should discuss this with your attorney and let him convey it to them if he decides that it is in your best interests.
  • Provide information promptly. Provide your attorney with the contact information for potential witnesses and any other helpful information for your defense promptly. An attorney needs this information to help build your case. Even if a witness does not want to testify, provide his information to your attorney and let him know this. Your attorney may decide to subpoena the person to testify at a hearing or your trial. Keep in mind that the earlier you provide helpful information to your attorney the more likely it is that he will have time to follow up on it and be better prepared for your hearings
  • Stay off social media. You never want to post anything about your criminal case on social media. The prosecutor, his investigator, or the police will find it. If possible, stay off social media altogether until your criminal case is resolved.
  • Stay in touch with your attorney. Your attorney needs to be able to contact you at all times, so you need to provide him with your current contact information. Take an active role in your case by regularly communicating with your attorney about the progress in your case. However, avoid contacting him on a daily basis.
  • Be on time for appointments and court hearings. You want to be on time for any court hearings. A good way to do this is to plan to be there early.
  • Dress appropriately and be respectful. When you attend court hearings, you want to make a good impression on the judge. You can do this by dressing appropriately as if you were going to a job interview and being respectful of the judge, court bailiff, and other court personnel.
  • Follow your attorney’s advice. You hired your attorney to help defend you and give you advice on what to do. If you want to achieve the best possible outcome, you need to follow your attorney’s advice.

Have you been charged with a crime? Call our Fairfax office or start an online chat today to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our trusted criminal defense attorneys to learn how the superior legal representation we provide to our clients can help you.

Benefits of Being a Lawyer

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Lawyers often are the punchline of many jokes; however, being a lawyer has its benefits.  It takes years of hard work and intensive study to become a lawyer; therefore, very few people would choose this career if there were not several excellent benefits of being a lawyer. For those who work hard, the rewards of being an attorney outweigh the cost of achieving your law degree and license to practice law.

The benefits of being a lawyer depend on several factors; however, seven of the most common benefits of being a lawyer include:

1.    Wide Selection of Career Options

The benefits of being a lawyer include being able to select from a wide variety of career options in the public and private sector. If your calling is to make the world a safer place for you, your family, and everyone else, you may choose to become a criminal prosecutor. On the other hand, if you believe our criminal justice system is grounded on the principal that everyone is innocent until proven guilty and everyone has the right to competent legal counsel, you may choose to become a public defender. Of course, some people believe this but choose to be a criminal defense attorney in the private sector because private attorneys tend to earn a great deal more than attorneys in the public sector.

In addition to criminal defense, you may choose from many areas of law including domestic law, real estate, corporate/business law, bankruptcy law, immigration law, or estate planning. If there is a law that covers a particular subject, you can choose to specialize in that specific area. You can also choose to become a sole proprietor who handles several areas of law for many clients or a corporate in-house attorney working for one client.

2.    Financial Rewards and Emotional Rewards

Among the many benefits of being a lawyer, the financial rewards and emotional rewards are at the top of most college-bound students seeking to study law.  Lawyers have the opportunity to earn a lucrative income. The average annual income for an attorney in the United States is $114,970 per year as of 2014 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor. The highest 10% of attorneys earned more than $187,200 per year. Salaries of experienced, specialized attorneys can be much, much higher depending on the field, geographical location, employer, and level of experience.

Of course, money is not the only reason why people choose the legal field as their career. The emotional rewards of being an attorney can be even more satisfying than the financial rewards. If you are passionate about your chosen field of law and you believe your top priority is your client, assisting people achieve a positive outcome for their problem is extremely satisfying. An attorney usually sees a person during one of the worst moments of their life; therefore, it can be extremely rewarding to help this person find a successful resolution to their problem.

3.    Mental Stimulation and Intellectual Challenges

The Top 10 Benefits Of Being A Lawyer - Icy Tales

Another one of the many benefits of being a lawyer is the mental stimulation an attorney experiences when working through complex legal theories, statutes, and case law to find a solution to a legal question. Most lawyers possess exceptional analytical skills including reading and writing skills. Practicing law allows you to use your mental skills each day in effective ways to solve problems for your clients. Because each case is unique, you must use your full mental capabilities to research, speculate, hypothesize, and formulate legal strategies to effectively solve problems for your clients.

4.    Argue and Debate

Some lawyers never argue a case in a court room or they argue very few cases in court. On the other hand, some trial attorneys are in court almost each week arguing a new case. If you enjoy the challenge of going up against another attorney to argue legal theories and points to prove your allegations are correct, becoming an attorney will give you ample opportunity to argue and debate legal theories and various interpretations of the law.

5.    Work Environment

For many, the work environment is one of the benefits specifically considered when choosing a career. Most lawyers work in law firms, government agencies, or corporations where they are afforded an actual office with four walls rather than a cubicle in the middle of a “bull pen” from a cubicle. Although things have since changed with the need for social distancing and the ease of working remotely. Being a lawyer typically includes the benefit of having a certain level of prestige that affords you certain benefits that other employees may not receive (i.e. office, ability to set hours, expense accounts, decorating budget, etc.).

6.    Skills that Transfer – Alternative Legal Careers

Benefits of being a lawyer do not stop at “being a lawyer.”  The skills you learn in law school and in the early years of your practice easily translate into alternative legal careers. Sally Kane wrote about several alternative legal careers in an article published on About.com. Alternative legal careers Kane explores in her article include legal consulting, legal technology, legal publishing, education, administration, banking, finance, dispute resolution, and human resource management.

7.    Flexibility

Unpredictable schedules, demanding billable quotas, long hours, and very few days off have been a major complaint of many attorneys.  The desire to achieve a better work-life balance has encouraged many firms to work with their employees to provide more flexibility as an attorney. Many law firms are now offering telecommuting, alternative work schedules, tiered pay scales, expanded family leave including maternity and paternity leave, reduced billable hours, and virtual assistants to reduce work load.  The benefits of being a lawyer are increasing as law firms and other employers see the value of providing additional flexibly for their employees in increased productivity and efficiency.

What Do Attorneys Say About the Benefits of Being a Lawyer?

Factors to Consider if You Want to Become a Lawyer

The ABA Journal asked for responses to the question, “Why I Love Being a Lawyer.” The responses were varied ranging from helping others to be self-employed and earning a substantial income. The American Bar Association posed a similar question in its Woman Advocate Litigation Section. The answers to the question, “What Have You Found Most Rewarding Being a Lawyer?” are also just as varied as those in the ABA Journal.

For each attorney, the answer to these questions will depend more on the person than on the chosen career. If you are passionate about your career, you are likely to be more satisfied and happy. Regardless of the benefits of being a lawyer, you must like what you do in order to truly enjoy being an attorney and find satisfaction in what you do for others.

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.

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