If you are arrested and are facing criminal charges, it’s probably a good idea to immediately contact a criminal defense attorney.
Regardless of whether you are charged with a minor offense or a serious felony, having an attorney will make a big difference. An attorney can help in many ways, including:
If a police officer arrests you for allegedly committing a crime, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you are able. If you are under arrest you will probably be brought to a judge within 48 hours of your arrest for a court appearance called an “arraignment.” In an arraignment, you will be called before the judge, and you will hear the charges brought against you.
It is important to speak with an attorney before your arraignment. Your attorney can help you understand the charges and give you legal guidance on how you should proceed. This can include deciding whether to plead “guilty” or “not guilty” or negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution to avoid or minimize jail time. Your attorney can also help you with preserving important information and evidence to build a good defense.
The law requires that you be given access to a legal representation before questioning. When you are arrested, inform the police that you would like to speak to an attorney. If you have worked with a criminal defense lawyer before, you should contact them assuming you were satisfied with their services.
But if you don’t have prior experience with criminal defense attorneys, you can call other lawyers you know, family members, or look into lawyer referral services to look for a lawyer who can take your case.
Hiring the right attorney can make all the difference when coming up with the best possible defense for your case. Consider the following before hiring an attorney for your case:
The cost of hiring a criminal defense lawyer depends on the attorney’s experience, the law firm, and how complicated your case is. The cost will also vary depending on whether you only need a consultation, a one-time court appearance, or representation at trial. Most attorneys will charge you either hourly or by a flat-fee arrangement.
If you are charged with a crime, the state may appoint a public defender to represent you at no cost to you if you qualify as an indigent person. An indigent person is one who cannot hire legal representation without causing substantial financial hardship for themselves or their family.
If you think you qualify for a public defender, you can make the request at your first court appearance. If you qualify, a lawyer will be appointed for you. If you are found guilty, the court may require you to repay some or all of the cost of your defense if it determines you are able.
An arrest and conviction can change everything. Fines or time in jail are the immediate concern, but a conviction will also mean a criminal record that can make it harder to find a job and housing for years to come. If you are arrested or learn you are under investigation, the first thing you should do is contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. You can search LawInfo’s legal directory to find a local criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights, lay out your options, and help you determine the best way to proceed with mounting a defense and limiting potential penalties.