The criminal justice system is a collection of individuals and agencies working together to fight crime on the streets and dispense justice in the courtroom. When you are arrested, this big and powerful system goes to work against you, in an effort to obtain a criminal conviction. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side – one who understands the system knows the (written and unwritten) rules and speaks the language of the prosecutor – will help to level the playing field.
A criminal defense attorney will protect your rights and guard your best interests by:
1. Investigating the charges against you.
Your criminal defense attorney will visit the scene of the alleged crime; interview witnesses; review official reports and other documents; and examine the physical evidence. While the goal of the police investigation is to obtain evidence that can be used against you in a criminal prosecution, your defense attorney's investigation serves a different purpose. Your attorney will investigate with an eye toward finding holes in the evidence, gaps in proof, inconsistencies, and other discrepancies that may give rise to reasonable doubt.
2. Scrutinizing the officers' conduct.
Did the officers' conduct, in connection with your arrest and/or in gathering the evidence against you, violate your constitutional rights? If so, your attorney can bring a motion (a formal, written request) to have the judge “suppress” or throw out the unlawfully obtained evidence before your case goes to trial.
3. Standing between you and the government.
The laws and procedures that govern a criminal case are complicated. Unless you have studied and trained in the law, it is impossible for you to know all of your rights or when those rights are being violated. Your attorney can help you assert your rights and stand up to an overzealous prosecutor.
4. Developing a theory of defense.
Did you act in self-defense? Do you have an alibi? Are the charges against you based on the claims of an unreliable eyewitness? Does the prosecution have a weak case, lacking sufficient evidence to prove the charges against you “beyond a reasonable doubt”? Depending on the facts of your case, your attorney can help you formulate and present a coherent theory of defense.
5. Representing you at trial.
Your attorney will be your voice in the courtroom, and will work on your behalf to select the jury; object to improper evidence and testimony; cross-examine the prosecution's witnesses; and present your defense to the jury.
6. Helping you make the big decisions required of a criminal defendant.
Should you accept a plea offer or go to trial? Should you testify at your trial? A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can offer wise counsel, based on experience, to help you make the many strategic decisions you will have to make as your case winds its way through the criminal process.
7. Communicating with your family.
Your journey through the criminal justice system is likely to be hard on your loved ones. Your family will be worried about you. Your criminal defense attorney can serve as an intermediary between you and your family and the criminal justice system, helping to ease their anxiety.
These are just some of the ways a criminal lawyer can assist in your defense. If you have questions, or if you would like to discuss your situation, please call us. We are available to help 24/7.