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What Is A Criminal Lawyer?
Criminal lawyers, or a criminal defense attorneys, represent clients going through the criminal justice system and defend against criminal charges in court. A criminal defense attorney can help defend against misdemeanor or felony charges in both state and federal court.
While some lawyers handle personal injury or real estate, criminal defense lawyers focus specifically on criminal law and understand the different aspects of criminal defense cases. This practice area covers a wide range of criminal offenses such as driving under the influence (DWI or DUI), domestic violence, speeding tickets or charges related to a car accident, drug crimes like drug possession or distribution, and more.
Criminal lawyers are there to support an arrested individual; an individual questioned by police but not formally charged; or an individual charged with a crime. Criminal lawyers are able to provide clients with a valuable knowledge and understanding of the charges and implications of your actions.
The Right To Counsel in Criminal Cases
Unlike in civil law, those who are prosecuted for a crime are guaranteed the right to assistance of counsel under Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. This means that if you are accused of a crime and facing charges in the court system, our criminal law legal system gives you the right to have a criminal defense lawyer represent you in legal matters if you cannot afford one. The court system can appoints criminal defense lawyers typically referred to as public defenders.
This right, generally, must be invoked by the accused individual and applies only after the initiation of formal adversarial proceedings – whether by way of an arrest or formal charge, preliminary hearing, indictment, information, or arraignment. Another time a person may exercise this right is during a law enforcement interrogation or when in police custody.
Since criminal cases often involve complex legal issues and possibly jail time, it is common for those accused of criminal activity to hire their own criminal law attorney from a private law office. While hiring a private law firm is a personal choice, it is important to know having a criminal defense attorney by your side is a Constitutional right.
Why Should I Hire a Criminal Lawyer?
The criminal court system can be tough to navigate alone, so many people turn to working with an experience criminal defense lawyer to alleviate this stress and protect their rights. You may attain a considerably better outcome than if you tried to handle your case on your own since criminal attorneys understand how the criminal justice system works and oftentimes know may key players in the court system.
Some of the ways a criminal lawyer may be able to help you include:
- Negotiating plea bargains on your behalf
- Evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your case
- Explaining the advantages and disadvantages of pleading guilty
- Reducing your bail
- Challenging your arrest
- Throwing out any incriminating statements you made to the police
- Determining whether any of your rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution have been violated
- Answering any questions you might have regarding your criminal charge
- Explaining the nature of your criminal charge
- Explaining any possible defense you may raise in your case
- Advocating on your behalf in a jury trial
- Reducing your punishment
- Avoiding a criminal record
How Do I Hire A Criminal Lawyer?
Hiring a lawyer may seem like an intimidating process, especially when criminal legal matters are involved or you have concerns with pricing. But finding an experienced criminal defense attorney can be more straightforward than you would think.
The first step is to find a law office or attorney near you that handles criminal defense cases, which can easily be located online. It’s okay if you’re not sure exactly who to hire at first; oftentimes people interview a few lawyers before they find one they feel comfortable working with. The majority of criminal lawyers or law firms offer free consultations to discuss your situation and provide insight into the legal matter.
The initial consultation is an opportunity to receive legal advice, ask questions, learn more about the criminal offense you are facing, and discuss legal fees. Some attorneys may offer payment plans or require a down payment so they can start getting to work on your case.