Being charged with a crime and navigating the criminal justice system can be an overwhelming and terrifying experience. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney advising and representing you through the ordeal can make an immense difference. But what exactly does hiring a criminal lawyer entail, and what can you expect?
The first step after being arrested or charged is consulting with a criminal defense attorney. It is ideal to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after charges are filed. When meeting a potential attorney, you can expect:
- An in-depth interview regarding the criminal allegations to get all the facts of your case.
- Counsel on your legal rights and options going forward. The attorney will provide a reality check on likely outcomes.
- An overview of the lawyer’s experience, track record with similar cases, and costs.
- Discussion of defense strategies the attorney would recommend based on the circumstances.
- Review of any actions you need to take immediately to avoid further damage.
- Chance to ask the attorney questions about their qualifications and approach.
This initial meeting enables you to assess whether the lawyer is the right fit for your case needs and provides critical preliminary legal advice.
Once retained, a diligent criminal defense attorney will thoroughly investigate the prosecution’s case and dig up additional facts and evidence. Their investigation may involve:
- Gathering and poring over all evidence, documents, and records related to the charges.
- Identifying weaknesses or inconsistencies in the prosecutor’s account.
- Interviewing any eyewitnesses or others involved with the case.
- Visiting and photographing the crime scene to corroborate your story.
- Requesting further evidence from law enforcement through discovery motions.
- Locating security footage or cell phone records that shed light on events.
- Retaining expert witnesses to challenge technical evidence used against you.
- Seeking out character witnesses who can testify on your behalf.
A skilled lawyer will spend substantial time outside the courtroom gathering anything that bolsters your defense. This investigation lays the groundwork for all subsequent defense tactics.
##Case Strategy Development
Based on investigation findings and research into prosecutorial tactics, your criminal attorney will develop an overall legal strategy. This comprehensive defense plan may include:
- Seeking dismissal of charges based on unlawful conduct, insufficient evidence, or rights violations in your arrest.
- Advising you on whether to accept a plea bargain offer or proceed to trial.
- Crafting defense arguments to counter the specific charges against you.
- Determining what witnesses, exhibits, and testimony to present at trial.
- Planning how to discredit the credibility of prosecution witnesses on cross-examination.
- Crafting your testimony to provide the most effective counter-narrative.
- Researching what objections to raise against prosecution evidence or arguments.
- Considering sentencing mitigation strategies if convicted.
Expect your lawyer to formulate a meticulous legal strategy optimized to respond to the precise charges and facts of your case.
Throughout the duration of a case, an attorney has an ethical obligation to maintain consistent communication with you. You can expect:
- Case status updates on preparations for trial, investigation findings, and plea offers.
- Explanations of all documents and correspondence related to your case.
- Prep sessions before court appearances so you fully understand protocols.
- Realistic insight on how the case is progressing and likely outcomes.
- Returned calls and emails promptly to address any concerns arising.
- Meetings to discuss all potential options and outcomes before major decisions.
This open flow of communication ensures you remain engaged and informed at every stage.
During both pretrial hearings and the trial itself, a criminal lawyer works hard on your behalf inside the courtroom. Their advocacy may include:
- Presenting evidence and questioning witnesses to support your innocence.
- Raising objections to biased jury instructions or improper lines of prosecutorial questioning.
- Impeaching the credibility of the prosecutor’s witnesses during cross-examination.
- A compelling opening statement that frames the narrative in your favor.
- An aggressive defense focused on creating reasonable doubt surrounding the charges.
- Urging jury leniency during sentencing through emotional closing arguments.
A seasoned litigator uses their courtroom skills and knowledge of criminal law to vigorously defend you before judges and juries.
Not all cases end in outright acquittal. An attorney often manages damage control through plea bargains or sentencing mitigation. Expect your lawyer to:
- Negotiate with the prosecution to reduce charges and penalty severity through plea deals.
- Gather evidence and letters attesting to your character and rehabilitation potential to present at sentencing hearings.
- Petition the court to avoid maximum penalties and advocate for alternatives like rehabilitation.
- Argue for concurrent rather than consecutive sentences on multiple charges to limit imprisonment.
If the outcome is less than ideal, experienced counsel presses for the next best resolutions.
Even after conviction, a criminal attorney keeps fighting in your corner through steps like:
- Filing appeals highlighting legal errors or insufficient evidence to overturn unjust verdicts.
- Requesting sentence commutation from the court or governor based on exceptional circumstances.
- Submitting petitions for early parole with evidence of rehabilitation showing you are ready for release.
- Moving to seal or expunge your criminal record when legally applicable through petitions.
- Helping restore forfeited rights, such as petitions to regain gun ownership eligibility after felony convictions.
Retaining quality legal representation provides the greatest advantage when facing criminal jeopardy. Relying on an experienced defense lawyer from Benjamin Durham Law Firm equips you to navigate each complex phase of the legal process.