A person accused of a crime may not hire a lawyer because of a misperception:
- I’m guilty. Hiring a lawyer won’t make any difference.
- I’m innocent and have nothing to hide—why should I hire a lawyer?
Whether you believe you are innocent or guilty, the worst mistake you will ever make is to go to court (or try to solve the case) without the support of a criminal defense attorney. Why?
You can be wrongfully convicted because of insufficient evidence to prove you’re not guilty. Second, you may miss an opportunity to reduce a prison sentence or fine if the law finds you guilty.
Here are seven compelling reasons to hire a criminal defense attorney when facing criminal charges.
1. Understand Your Options and Know What to Expect
When you’re accused, it can be challenging to understand what the charges entail and the possible consequences if the law finds you guilty. For this reason, handling a case without legal guidance is like taking a shot in the dark. You won’t be sure of what to do or what to expect.
Since criminal charges can translate to hefty fines or jail time upon conviction, you should leave zero room for guesswork. Neither should you leave your freedom in the hands of fate.
Criminal defense attorneys have honed their skills around criminal law. They’ve mastered their craft in the complicated justice system. So, they have what it takes to use different sections of the constitution to counter criminal charges.
This puts them in a better position to help you understand your legal options and reveal the best possible results to expect in your case. Additionally, an attorney holds your hands throughout the entire case to help you get the best possible outcomes.
2. Present the Best Evidence to Support Your Case
The cardinal principle of the U.S. justice system is that the accused is innocent until proven guilty. As the accuser strives to prove you’re guilty, a lawyer helps gather proof to support your case.
This could be through revealing hidden facts, gathering relevant documents, finding the right witnesses, or proving a violation of your legal right. By digging deeper and analyzing your case from different angles, an attorney ensures you present the strongest evidence in your case. The evidence can help prove your innocence or significantly reduce the consequences of a conviction.
3. Use the Best Defense Strategy Against Charges
After thoroughly reviewing your case, an attorney ensures you choose the best way forward. An experienced lawyer analyzes your charges, police reports, witness statements, and anything relevant to your case. Then, create a defense plan that stands a chance against your criminal charges.
The ultimate goal of a good defense strategy is to dismiss a case, reduce the charges, or defend the accused in court. So, you prioritize your best interests if you hire a criminal defense attorney.
4. Avoid Incriminating Yourself
Hiring a lawyer ensures you don’t misspeak or make statements you aren’t sure about. An attorney makes sure law enforcement doesn’t trick you into self-incrimination. With reliable legal guidance, you will know what questions to answer and the ones to avoid during an interrogation.
It’s your right to lawyer up any time law enforcement interrogates you. A criminal defense attorney is your best option to avoid self-incrimination.
5. Defend Your Constitutional Rights
Police officers are responsible for maintaining peace and order, but sometimes, they can act unreasonably, resulting in unlawful arrest, false allegations, physical injuries, or psychological trauma.
For example, law enforcement may search your car without probable cause or consent. Or perhaps they may use excessive force resulting in misconduct.
An attorney can unearth search incidents and defend your constitutional rights to reasonable searches and seizure. If your rights were violated and there was no probable cause for arrest, a lawyer can use these grounds to get your charges dismissed.
After all, your case isn’t just about whether you’re guilty or innocent. It significantly concerns the events that led to the criminal charges and whether law enforcement followed all legal procedures.
6. Negotiate a Plea Deal for a Lighter Sentence
Most criminal cases don’t reach trial. Instead, the accuser and the accused settle things out of court by making an agreement, commonly known as negotiating a plea deal.
The deal usually involves the accused admitting guilt for a lesser criminal charge or lenient sentencing. For example, you can plead guilty to a specific charge in exchange for the accuser recommending a lower sentence.
Getting a favorable plea deal requires negotiation skills, and that’s where hiring a competent attorney comes in. Leveraging a lawyer’s bargaining skills can help achieve the following in your case:
- Avoid a court trial that may result in heavier penalties
- Avoid the high cost of defending yourself in trial and the negative publicity that may come along
An attorney helps you decide whether a plea deal is right for you. If there’s a good chance of getting better results than a plea bargain, your lawyer defends you in court to ensure you get the best possible results.
7. Get Your Case Moving Fast
Navigating the complex justice system by yourself can be challenging, if not impossible. What documents are necessary, and where do you file them? What’s the deadline for filing them, and what legal procedure should you follow?
Your case can drag on for months or years if you don’t understand criminal laws. A lawyer knows the system, has the experience, and, most importantly, has a reliable team to keep the case moving as fast as possible. The faster your case is solved, the quicker you can return to everyday life.