Learn About Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney If You’ve Been Charged With a Crime
Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you find yourself charged with a crime, you have the opportunity to defend your innocence in court. You’ll either clear your name of the charges or reduce the charges. While it is entirely your right to defend yourself in court, you also have the right to have a defense attorney represent you and fight on your behalf.
Should you decide to fight those charges, working with a criminal defense attorney is essential. A defense attorney can clear your name of charges. They can also fight for a plea bargain that can dramatically reduce or eliminate penalties, including time spent in jail or prison.
When placed under arrest, you either have to hire a private defense lawyer or have a public defender appointed to you.
Public Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you opt for a public defender, you need to ask the court to appoint you one. You’ll then provide the court with details regarding your financial situation. You can request a public defender at your initial arraignment or bail hearing.
In some courts, if you request public representation, you immediately receive a lawyer. In other courts, they may delay your case while they review your financial situation and determine if you qualify for a public defender.
There are different rules and requirements in each state to determine if one is eligible for free representation. If the court find you to be ineligible, but your financial situation is such that you cannot afford a private attorney, you still get a public defender, but you may be responsible for paying some of those fees back in the future.
Private Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you can afford a private defense attorney, get into contact with one right away to consult with following your arrest. You can find a high-quality private attorney in several ways, including:
- Contacting private criminal lawyers you have worked with in the past
- Asking friends and family for recommendations
- Visiting a courthouse and sitting through other hearings to find attorneys
- Using Request a Lawyer’s directory to find an experienced criminal attorney near you
Private attorneys can cost a varying amount, and the price of an attorney depends on several factors, including:
- The complexity of the case
- The attorney’s experience (newer attorneys usually cost significantly less than experienced attorneys)
- Where you live (attorneys in NYC cost more than attorneys in rural areas)
You need to pay all or most of the fee upfront before the lawyer represents you. A criminal defense attorney cannot charge contingency fees, meaning that you do not have to pay more if they win you the case. To find and connect with an attorney, use our “criminal attorney near me” directory feature.
What Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Do, And Why Hire One?
A criminal defense lawyer remains by the defendant’s side throughout the entire legal process of fighting a criminal charge. Once someone receives a charge, the first step needs to be contacting a private attorney (or getting a public defender) so that person can begin preparing for the trial. Here is what to expect when working with a criminal defense attorney:
Initial Interview With Defendant
The attorney conducts an initial interview to gather the details of the case and learn about your experience. They ask the defendant specific questions to figure out what the best way forward is for the defense.
Case Investigation and Analysis
The attorney investigates the case further by interviewing the police, contacting and interviewing witnesses, and working with expert witnesses who may help during the trial. Then the attorney analyzes all this information and begins to put together a solid defense.
Selection of the Jury
The defense attorney helps put together the jury by removing anyone she or he believes to hold a bias against you during the trial.
The lawyer may pursue a plea deal, where she or he negotiates with the prosecutor to secure a favorable deal that can reduce the charges and sentencing. A criminal trial becomes unnecessary if parties can reach a successful plea deal.
During a criminal trial, a defense attorney represents the defendant. They fight on his or her behalf to clear that person’s name of all charges. The legal advocate examines witnesses, cross-examines any witnesses the state introduces and strives to convince the jury of the defendant’s innocence.
The defense attorney must do everything to prevent the plaintiff from meeting the burden of proof. In criminal cases, the burden of proof means that the defendant is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If that burden of proof is not met in the eyes of the jury, the defendant receives a “not guilty” verdict.
If a defendant is convicted of a crime, whether through a plea bargain or a criminal trial, a sentencing hearing determines the punishment. The defense attorney works hard to reduce the sentence to the minimum duration for the defendant’s convicted crimes.
Work with an Experienced Defense Attorney
Were you charged with a crime? You have a right to legal representation to defend you in court. If you cannot pay for your own attorney, then a court appoints you a public defender. If you can afford your own legal representation, hire an experienced private defense lawyer.
Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!