A criminal defense attorney plays many roles in your case, from advising you on legal strategies to presenting your case to a jury. When a lawyer doesn’t fulfill their duties properly, you will feel like everything in your case is going wrong.
No lawyer will be able to win every single case they try. But a good lawyer will get the best outcome possible under the circumstances their clients face. With the right legal partner, even if you don’t get the outcome you wanted, you will have a hard time arguing the outcome was unfair.
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The Roles of a Criminal Defense Attorney
A lawyer in your criminal case will help you in several ways, which may include acting in the following capacities:
A lawyer listens to your story and provides legal advice about your possible courses of action. When the police investigate or arrest you, your lawyer can help you to explain your actions to prosecutors. As a result, the lawyer’s advice could help you to avoid getting charged with a crime.
If you do get charged, your lawyer can evaluate the case against you and help you to prioritize your goals. Based on your objectives, the lawyer can help you choose the best course of action. You need a lawyer who can provide unbiased advice based on a solid understanding of the law.
For example, suppose that you get charged with felony theft. You could try to negotiate a plea deal for misdemeanor theft crimes or fight the felony theft charge to try to get acquitted.
If you have a contractor’s license, the licensing board might suspend or terminate it for a felony conviction but may choose not to do so with a misdemeanor conviction. A good lawyer will help you understand the consequences of fighting and losing your case in contrast to taking a deal and moving forward with your life.
Criminal cases are unusual because your words can be used against you — sometimes with devastating results. If you lose a criminal case, the government can take away your freedom.
In many situations, you will need your lawyer to speak for you during police interviews, discussions with prosecutors, and court hearings. You need a lawyer who can listen to you, understand your situation, and speak truthfully on your behalf.
Most criminal cases do not reach trial. Instead, charges either get dropped by prosecutors or pled out in a negotiated deal. Given that your case will likely result in a plea deal, you need a lawyer who will negotiate for the best deal possible, given the circumstances of your case.
Again, negotiation requires a lawyer to understand your goals and negotiate for a reasonable result under the law. Suppose that you were arrested for a sex crime that could result in mandatory registration as a sex offender if you are convicted.
Since Kentucky has a public sex offender registry, registration could lead to a denial of employment offers, reduced educational opportunities, or even trouble with your rental applications. A lawyer can try to negotiate for a non-registrable offense so you can avoid these consequences.
A lawyer must always advocate for your position as long as the facts and law support it. A lawyer will advocate for you before:
When you’re faced with criminal charges, you need a skilled advocate who can explain your positions and argue persuasively for the outcome you want.
Signs You Have Hired a Good (or Bad) Criminal Defense Attorney
As a non-lawyer, you might have a hard time following what is going on with your case. Some signs you have hired a good (or bad) criminal defense attorney include:
You will have open lines of communication with a good lawyer. Your lawyer will respond to your emails and phone messages within a reasonable time. You will feel comfortable having honest discussions with a good lawyer, even about embarrassing subjects.
A bad lawyer will not return phone calls or email messages. You may feel like your lawyer shuts you down when you try to speak about your case. You might feel that the lawyer judges you or lacks the time or patience to listen to you.
A good lawyer will engage in your case. They will investigate to discover all possible defenses. A good lawyer will interview witnesses and gather evidence to support your assertions.
A bad lawyer will go through the motions in mounting your defenses. They might fail to follow leads in your case or fail to line up witnesses who can offer helpful testimony.
Negotiating is a skill and an art. A good lawyer will have a solid grounding in the facts of your case and the criminal laws. They will find alternate offenses that might fit the facts better and give you the best chance of avoiding or minimizing punishment. A good lawyer will engage in a back-and-forth discussion with prosecutors to negotiate the best deal you can get.
A bad lawyer will not explain how plea bargains work. They might not negotiate with prosecutors, and instead, just act as a courier, bringing the plea offers to you to accept or reject. The lawyer may not explain each offer’s good and bad elements and will not fight for a better offer.
Throughout your case, you may face several milestones, including:
- A bail hearing
- A preliminary hearing
- Pre-trial motions
- A trial
- A verdict
A good lawyer will walk you through the process and explain what you should expect at each point. The lawyer will help you understand what you need to accomplish at each stage and work to achieve it. They will also provide blunt assessments of where you stand and how your case is proceeding so you can make decisions about case strategy.
A bad lawyer will leave you in the dark about where you are and where you are going. You may feel like the case is going against you at every step and will feel helpless to change the case’s direction.
Choosing a Criminal Defense Attorney
Lawyers have different experiences, skills, and personalities. The best lawyer for your case might not have the greatest number of billboards or the most famous name. Instead, the best lawyer will be the one with whom you can form a working relationship. This will ensure you can mount the best defense possible in the fight against your charges. To discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, Contact our law office Suhre & Associates, LLC at (502) 371-7000 for a free consultation.