Responsibilities of Criminal Defense Attorneys
Criminal defense attorneys carry the important responsibility of ensuring that persons who have been accused of crimes receive just treatment under the law. Under the 6th Amendment of the Bill of Rights, persons who have been accused of criminal acts are entitled to a "speedy and public trial," and an "impartial jury." In a criminal trial the prosecuting attorney must show the jury "beyond a reasonable doubt," that the defendant committed the crime.
By representing a client, a criminal defense attorney essentially acts as his or her voice before the jury. It is therefore very important that the criminal defense attorney understand and argue the facts of the client's case well. If the accused was involved in the crime, but to a lesser extent than the prosecution claims, the defense attorney must provide the jury with the information necessary to assess the defendant's degree of guilt.
What to Consider When Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
Take the necessary time to visit different criminal defense attorneys before choosing who will represent you. A well-experienced attorney will help you to understand the legal battle before you and will guide you through the legal process. When you are interviewing potential attorneys, be sure to take note of their experience handling cases similar to yours, their attention to the details of your case, and their ability to explain what you should expect during a trial.
Before deciding on a criminal defense attorney, be sure to find out how much experience he or she has in the area of criminal law that applies to your case. A securities fraud attorney, for example, may not be of much assistance in your DUI case. It is worth keeping in mind that years in practice do not necessarily correspond to years of experience. Find a lawyer who has worked on cases like yours.
In firms with multiple attorneys, different lawyers may represent different cases. Be sure to meet the attorney who will be working specifically with your case. If a team of attorneys will be involved in your case, ask to be introduced to each of them.
It is important that you be able to contact your criminal defense attorney when you need legal assistance and when new information regarding your case arises. Find out how often you will be able to meet with your attorney and if he or she will be available regularly.
What to Bring and What to Ask
Before meeting with a criminal defense attorney, prepare a summary of information regarding your case. This information will help the attorney understand the details of your case and will help you to explain. In your summary, include such information as:
- When the arrest occurred.
- What the circumstances of the arrest were.
- What you have been accused of.
- Who was involved.
- What the case against you is.
Bring any other documentation you have regarding your case. The information you bring to an initial consultation will help a lawyer understand the details surrounding your arrest and the charges against you. Providing useful information may also help a criminal defense attorney who feels that he or she cannot adequately represent you refer you to a colleague.
Criminal Defense Attorney Fees
It is well worth the cost to hire the best representation you can afford, but make sure you know what services you will be charged for and how much they will cost before signing.
Once You Have Hired Your Attorney
Once you have chosen a criminal defense attorney, you will need to be patient and cooperate with him or her. It is likely that you will be anxious and even afraid during a long trial period. To help expedite the process, cooperate with your attorney by providing useful information, and be willing to do some legwork to get documents he or she needs from you. Keep a list of questions you have, and discuss them during regular consultations.
Talk to Criminal Defense Attorneys in Your Area
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