When to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney
Have you been charged with a crime?
Undergoing the criminal justice system may seem difficult and overwhelming, especially if you’ve never navigated it before. If you don’t have legal representation, you need to know all the proper steps and regulations, as well as how to submit evidence and argue on behalf of yourself.
Fortunately, you don’t have to do this alone. Hiring a criminal defense attorney places a legal expert by your side and gives you someone who can take the reins on your case.
But when is the right time to hire the best criminal defense attorney? Keep reading to find out!
You’ve Been Arrested
If the police have shown up at your door, lights flaring, and placed you under arrest, you should hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Every person in the United States has the right to an attorney of their choosing. This means you have the right to hire any qualified legal professional to represent you, regardless of your guilt or innocence. Even if you think you don’t stand a chance of winning your case and plan to plead guilty, you should hire a criminal defense lawyer.
No matter how you wish to plead, your defense attorney provides you with expert advice and helps you negotiate with the other party. If you plead guilty, they’ll help you make sure your sentence is reduced. If you plead innocent, they’ll gather evidence to support your innocence and present it to the jury in a compelling manner.
You’ve Been Charged with a Crime
Contrary to popular belief, being arrested and charged with a crime are not necessarily the same thing. Often, the authorities do press charges against people who are placed under arrest, but sometimes, they set them free instead.
How does this work?
First, an incident happens. The police arrest whoever they believe responsible for the incident and file a police report. A prosecutor then reviews the report and decides whether or not charges deserve to be filed. If the prosecutor agrees that the arrested person broke the law, the case will go to a judge, who then determines whether or not the case should proceed.
Alternatively, instead of deciding on their own whether or not charges deserve to be filed, the prosecutor can ask a grand jury to decide. If 12 jurors or more believe charges should be filed, the case will go on to the judge.
If no charges are filed, you will go free, but if you the system presses charges, it means your case has moved to the next level, and you should consider hiring one of the top criminal defense attorneys within your budget.
You’ve Been Released on Bail
Has someone bailed you out of jail?
While you might be relieved that you don’t have to spend time behind bars, it doesn’t mean your criminal case is over. It also doesn’t mean that you’ll never return to jail if you’re found guilty.
As such, you need to hire a lawyer. If you go through the legal process without an attorney, you will lack the legal expertise needed to build a strong case, putting your future in jeopardy.
On the other hand, having a legal representative on your side will help you build a strong case and give you the resources needed to collect high-quality evidence. They may even be the difference between you going to prison and walking free. This makes hiring a lawyer worth it.
You’re Unsatisfied with Your Current Lawyer
Do you currently have a legal representative? Do you find yourself unsatisfied with their work?
Just because someone has the right legal experience doesn’t mean they’re the best fit for you and your case. You want an attorney who has spent a lot of time working with (and winning) cases like yours, and if yours doesn’t, consider finding someone new.
Alternatively, if you’re having a hard time getting in touch with your lawyer, you should seek out a new lawyer. Many attorneys have several clients at a time, so it’s not abnormal for a person to not be able to respond right away, but if they do not do so in a timely manner, look for someone more available. Your future is too important to waste time on someone who doesn’t communicate with you.
If you get the impression your lawyer does not care about you or your case, you should also look elsewhere. You want someone who is completely on your side and willing to go the extra mile to make sure your case achieves the best outcome.
At What Point in the Criminal Process Should You Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?
The short answer is: as soon as possible.
When you’re taken into custody, the police will likely question you and try to gain evidence. By law, you don’t have to answer any questions or undergo legal interrogations without an attorney present. Having a criminal defense lawyer at these proceedings ensures everything stays fair and keeps your attorney abreast of the inquiries investigators make.
Of course, having a lawyer at these proceedings is not mandatory, but it is recommended.
But what if you’re decently far into your criminal case?
You can hire an attorney later on in your criminal proceedings, so if you want to hire one today, go ahead. It’s better to hire a lawyer later in the proceedings than navigate the entire process on your own.
Ready to Hire a Lawyer?
Now that you know when you should consider hiring a criminal defense attorney, you’re ready to move on to finding the right lawyer.
The criminal justice system seems overwhelming and difficult to navigate. If you’ve been arrested, charged with a crime, released on bail, or are unsatisfied with your current lawyer, you should hire a qualified attorney (someone who has the right legal expertise). This should be someone who specializes in criminal law and has won cases like yours.
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