Okay, so you or a loved one has been charged with a crime. Now what? You need to call a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. While there are so many reasons to call an attorney, here are five of the most compelling:
1) You need someone to protect your interests.
The old maxim “innocent until proven guilty” is extinct, at least in the public’s perception. That is not to say that, in court, you are not innocent until proven guilty, meaning that the prosecution must prove each and every element of the charge against you beyond a reasonable doubt. But, many people believe that if the prosecution has gathered enough information to charge you with a crime, the chances are that you in fact committed the crime. That is a heavy burden to be placed on any person. That is why you need someone on your side, fighting for you. Someone needs to let the court and the jury know that you are innocent until proven guilty. That someone could be you, although that is an uphill battle since you are the one charged with the crime. It is much better to have a criminal defense attorney to advocate for you.
2) Knowledge is king.
There is a lot of information out there. You can search on that internet, research at the library, speak to others, or remember from personal experience. Some of the informaton is good, and some of it is bad. But why try to sift through the bad stuff and get to the good stuff, when you can go to an expert? A criminal defense attorney knows what is the good stuff, and not only about the law. An attorney can navigate the system, the local variances, criminal procedure, and the differences between jurisdictions. An attorney can explain everything to you, so that you can then make an informed decision about your defense.
3) The law is complex.
You need someone to help explain to you what everything means. That starts with the statute that outlines crime with which you have been charged, and there may be several. Additionally, each statute probably refers to another statute, which contains vital information. Beyond that, there are statutes containing criminal procedure that must be followed. Finally, there is case law that may have a direct impact on your case. An experienced criminal defense attorney will have knowledge of all of these things.
A lot of people believe they can just walk into the courtroom, call their witnesses, and tell the judge or jury what happened. But non-lawyers do not get the benefit of the doubt from the judge or jury, and often times don’t even get to tell the judge or jury what happened because they don’t understand what is going on. Then they are left wondering how they were just given a six-month jail sentence. That is just an example, but it happens all the time.
4) There are deadlines.
By limited time, I do not mean that you are too busy with work or family (or whatever) to represent yourself. Rather, you have limited time to investigate and prepare the best defense for your case. Most jurisdictions have speedy trial rules that must be complied with and, because of this, things move quickly once a charge is brought. Often times, you have certain time periods in which you must do certain things (such as presenting certain motions or requesting documents). A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will know exactly what to and when to do it.
5) Because so much is at stake.
Literally, your life may depend on your attorney. Though not always in the “facing capital punishment” kind of way, a conviction could mean a substantial jail sentence. It could mean other things too, such as a hefty fine or the loss of your driving privileges. Why take the chance with your life?
You need a defense lawyer, and not just any lawyer. You want to hire an experienced professional. You need a lawyer who knows the ropes – someone with a deep knowledge of local laws and the ins and outs of the judicial system.