by Michelle V. Katz
If you’ve been accused of serious law violations and you’re facing charges, you’ll instantly think that this will change your life forever, but not for good. It’s easy to think that you might end up paying hefty fines you can’t even afford. Worse, being locked up in jail for several months, years, or even your entire lifetime! Or even worst, death penalty might be imposed if someone has been proven guilty of committing more serious crimes. Yet, what if, you know in yourself that you are an innocent person after all and you were just framed up? Of course, you’ll do your best to obtain justice for yourself.
Criminal charges could bring about huge impacts in the life of the accused. The accused might be imposed of one or more punishments including hefty fines, probation, imprisonment, and even death penalty. Take note that this results in a permanent criminal record as well which gives anyone a bad reputation. With a bad reputation, it can be difficult to build new and essential relationships such as finding a potential employer, choosing a good marriage mate, or even simply building new friendships. Everyone might end up avoiding you, or even hating you.
When Facing Charges
As we know, the accused is not proven guilty until proper investigations and legal proceedings as based on a state or country’s laws are carried out. He is given the benefit of reasonable doubt and the right to defend himself. This is beneficial especially if the person needs to clear his name from false accusations.
If you’ve been arrested, it won’t help if you rush to tell your side of the story to the police. Of course, you’ll be asked to provide basic information such as your name, age, and address. However, it is your right to remain silent until you’ve sought proper legal counsel from a trusted and qualified defense attorney. It is important to follow this advice because anything you say might be taken against you by the prosecution.
Most police stations will allow you to use the telephone to inform you family or friends of your current situation. It is also best to contact your lawyer right away.
How to Choose a Good Defense Lawyer
While you can legally represent yourself even during trial, you wouldn’t want to risk it. If you do so, you must have a keen knowledge and understanding of the constitution. You must understand the proper legal proceedings very well. But this is a very complicated thing to do if you don’t have the knowledge and expertise that would equal that of a defense lawyer. So, it is still best to get the help of a qualified attorney. But in case you don’t have a choice, learn more about the crucial tips about defending yourself in court without a defense attorney.
Not every lawyer though would be right for your case. Just like doctors, lawyers have individual areas of expertise. So, it is crucial to choose the right attorney who would be suitable for your case—someone who can make a strong defense against the prosecution’s charges against you.
Basically, the defense lawyer’s role is to find loopholes in the pieces of evidence laid by the prosecution and help you out on matters regarding initial detention, bailing, court trial, and other processes. He needs to find the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of the case. He must also inform you of the possible consequences of the charges.
To choose the right defense attorney, you can ask for references from your family and friends, or from some organizations. You also have the option to look up information online. Here are some more things to help you throughout the process:
- Find a dedicated defense attorney.
Find a suitable lawyer who specializes in defense. It is best if this lawyer has handled similar cases like yours in the past. This will enable you to gauge his knowledge, experience, and expertise suitable for your situation. So, ask yourself: Has this lawyer gone through several trials in the past? Is he willing to go to trial? How many cases like mine has he handled before? What’s the feedback of his clients? How about his victories? Attorneys specializing in defense know well how to find loopholes in the prosecution’s charges against you.
- Steer clear from public attorneys.
We don’t say that they aren’t trustworthy. They won’t set you up to lose the case either. It’s just that most public attorneys don’t have enough experience in handling some particular cases. Some of them may not have any experience on going to trials at all. Also, many of them are handling way too many cases already. Read more about that here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/17/poor-rely-public-defenders-too-overworked
So, they don’t have the time and energy to conduct careful research regarding your case. And how can you come up with a strong defense if not enough study has been done? As much as possible, especially if you really have the budget to pay a private attorney, then hire the right one who would be the most qualified for your case.
- Choose one who has good reputation.
When choosing a good defense lawyer, know his background first. He must be someone who did not receive any disciplinary actions during his practice of his law career as this might negatively impact your case.
- You should be comfortable opening up everything to this lawyer of your choice.
Of course, you’ll need to be honest with your lawyer. You need to open up to him, even about your personal life. So, if he’s someone you’re not comfortable talking with, it would be a difficult situation. Also, remember that your lawyer is there not to judge you but to help you present a very good defense, minimize possible punishments, and get you acquitted as much as possible.
As a recap, when choosing a qualified lawyer for your case as the defendant, find a lawyer who specializes in defense, someone who is experienced at going to trials, and someone who has good background, reputation, and experience in handling cases similar to yours. As much as possible, hire someone from a private law firm. Also, be very honest with your lawyer about your case.
Your reputation, resources, freedom, and even your life are all at stake. Choose the right defense attorney wisely.
About the Author
Michelle has always been a bookworm since she was a kid. She discovered her passion for writing through traveling and personal experiences. She works as a legal practitioner by day and a writer by night.