If you or a loved one have had a brush with the law and are facing serious criminal charges, you need to involve a criminal defense attorney right away. Of course, several things would be running through your mind at this point – like the cost of hiring a good lawyer.
It would be disingenuous to tell you not to worry about it. That the expense associated with hiring the best criminal defense lawyers is nothing compared to the price of going to prison. But it matters a great deal too.
What many people fail to realize is that bringing a defense attorney on board at the beginning of the process will save you loads in large expenses further down the line. Additionally, depending on the nature of the legal trouble you’re in, you need someone to help you navigate through your issue and safeguard your constitutional liberties. With that said, here’s when you should hire a criminal defense attorney.
Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer: What You Need to Know
While it would certainly be ideal to have an attorney present with you from the moment you’re placed at the back of a cop car, the reality is, it’s simply not practical. You should, however, make the effort to speak to a defense attorney as soon as possible, preferably after you’re released from police custody. This should be your priority if there are some pretty serious criminal allegations being leveled against you.
One of the main pros of seeking out legal representation early on is that a competent defense lawyer might be able to get your criminal charges list dismissed way before any formal charges are brought against you. They are also in the best position to negotiate other rights you’re entitled to that could very well increase your chances of getting a favorable outcome.
The timing here is crucial. So, it’s important to have a lawyer negotiate and bargain for your rights shortly after you’re arrested.
Furthermore, a competent criminal defense attorney can act as a mediator between you and the aggrieved party. In some instances, it is quite likely that tempers flared out of control which ultimately led to your criminal mischief and eventual arrest.
Defense lawyers have sufficient experience to be able to approach the other party and calmly argue on your behalf. The best-case scenario is the other party agreeing to drop the charges that led to your arrest in the first place and reach an amicable resolution outside of the legal system.
When to Hire Criminal Defense Attorneys
Regardless of whether or not you are at fault, fighting criminal charges that have been leveled against you is a long and emotional ordeal. Having the comfort and security that you have someone there fighting tooth and nail to secure your freedom is invaluable.
You need someone with adequate experience to hold your hand every step of the way to help you navigate the intricacies and complexities of the American criminal law system. Here are some instances when you need to hire a criminal defense attorney.
1. You’re Facing Assault and Battery Charges
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime, assault and battery cases can vary widely in terms of defense and possible outcomes. Some are relatively straightforward while others can be quite complex, especially when they have lots of moving parts.
If someone has leveled assault and battery charges against you, you need to get a lawyer on board as soon as possible. If you attempt to defend yourself without any legal background, you could be looking at some serious jail time. Here are some defenses a brilliant defense attorney could come up with to help your case and secure your freedom.
This is likely the most common defense strategy used by many lawyers to fight assault and battery charges. To prove that you were acting in self-defense when the alleged crime happened, you have to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that:
- There was an imminent threat of harm you were facing at that moment
- You had a real perceived fear of harm against yourself
- You didn’t provoke the other party
- There was no reasonable chance of you retreating from the situation
Defense of Property
A defense attorney would be able to use this strategy if they can prove that their client was acting in defense of their property. They would have to show that the other party illicitly invaded your property, or that they were illegally withholding it from you.
With this line of defense, the law generally allows an individual to use reasonable force to defend their property, as long as there is no existing dispute over its ownership. A good defense lawyer is in the best position to use this defense strategy in your favor.
Also read Stand Your Ground Law: Legal Rights and Liabilities.
Defense of Others
This defense tactic is a lot like self-defense. The only difference is that the accused had a real perceived fear of impending harm against someone else. The same threshold for proving the defense of others is similar to that of self-defense.
Voluntary consent as a defense for battery and assault charges is available in some jurisdictions. The law in these states fronts that if an individual consented voluntarily to a particular act that involved some level of violence, they can’t later turn around and allege that they were assaulted.
However, if the extent of the act goes beyond the permission that was initially granted, then those are sufficient grounds for assault and battery charges. If you’re facing these charges as a result of another party alleging that you acted in a manner that went beyond the level of permission that had initially been granted, you need to hire the best defense lawyer to help you prove otherwise.
2. You’re Facing Drug Charges
Numerous illicit drugs are outlawed at both a state and federal level. Methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin are prime examples. Associating with them at any level which includes their cultivation, distribution, trafficking or possession could see you behind bars for a long time.
A drug conviction carries with it stiff penalties. So, if you find yourself entangled in that mess, that’s your cue to call a defense attorney to get a handle on your case before you’re indicted.
The drug crimes criminal justice reform allows a criminal defense lawyer to negotiate a plea deal with prosecutors if you are what they would consider a lower-level offender. In exchange, you would render your help in catching the big fish.
Drug charges aren’t limited to drugs. Being in possession of items used in drug crimes is a chargeable offense too. So, if you were brought in and booked for possession of drug paraphernalia, you need to call and retain the services of a great criminal defense lawyer to help you deal with those charges.
There are several ways they would defend against drug charges. They could prove that:
- Law enforcement officers carried out an illegal or unlawful search and seizure
- The drugs and/or drug paraphernalia seized belonged to someone else
- There’s missing evidence from the drugs seized
- The defendant was forced to hold or carry drugs for someone else
3. You’re Facing Fraud or Financial Crimes Charges
Fraud and financial crimes are classified as a form of theft where an entity (or person) obtains money or property from another party and uses it illicitly for monetary gain. It usually involves some form of deceit or abuse of trust which is ultimately what sets these crimes apart from the more common forms of theft or robbery.
Examples of fraud or financial crimes include credit/debit card fraud, forgery, wire fraud, and insurance fraud. These types of crimes fall under the criminal law specialization category of white collar crime.
If you’ve been charged with fraud or financial crimes, you need a criminal defense attorney who specializes in white collar crime to come to your aid right away.
[See our list of white collar crime criminal defense lawyers]
You need to retain their services before you answer questions from any criminal investigator. Speaking to them without your lawyer present could mean incriminating yourself whether or not you are at fault. Your legal counsel will be there to ensure that your interests are protected at all costs.
4. You’re Facing Alcohol Crimes
Alcohol plays a major role in the commission of numerous crimes that would otherwise never be categorized as drug-related. However, four main offenses fall squarely under alcohol crimes. They are Driving Under the Influence (DUI), public intoxication, open container and minor in possession of alcohol.
A DUI charge is the most grievous of them all and carries with it severe penalties. If you don’t understand your rights or alcohol-related laws for that matter, you need to hire a DUI lawyer as soon as you’re arrested.
What’s more, if you’re in a line of work where getting criminally convicted for alcohol-related crimes could lead to the loss of your professional license, or prevent you from getting one, then you need to talk to an attorney as soon as you can to prevent a bad situation from getting worse. Don’t attempt to handle such cases yourself.
5. You’re Facing Theft Charges
The general definition of theft is taking someone else’s property without their approval. However, legally, the term encompasses a wide range of categories that go beyond this.
It is often defined as the act of taking someone else’s property without their authorization, to permanently deprive them of it. When theft charges are leveled against an individual, the prosecution has to show that:
- The property was taken from the aggrieved party without their authorization
- The accused had the requisite intent to permanently deprive the aggrieved party of the property
The degrees of theft charges vary depending on the type of property that was stolen and how much it was worth. This gives rise to the two main categories of theft: Petty theft and grand theft.
The threshold used to determine the degree of theft charges brought against an individual varies from state to state. Some defenses that a good criminal lawyer would use in a theft case include:
- Showing that the accused had a right of ownership to the property in question. This claim would have to be supported with evidence.
- Showing that the accused was intoxicated at the time of the crime. This would work in some instances to prove that the accused did not have the intention to steal if they, while in their intoxicated state, believed that the property belonged to them.
- Showing that the stolen property was returned. While it might not get the theft charges dropped, it does paint a more sympathetic picture to the prosecuting officer. It makes them more inclined to agree to a plea deal.
- Using the defense of entrapment to show that the accused was lured into committing the crime by some other party.
6. You’re Facing Homicide Charges
When one individual takes the life of another, this is regarded as a homicide regardless of the circumstances surrounding the incident. Homicide, however, isn’t always considered a crime. Examples of such incidences include state-sanctioned executions or self-defense cases that result in the death of another party.
For a homicide to be considered criminal, prosecutors have to prove willful intent or negligence of the part of the accused. If you or someone close to you is facing these charges, the best course of action is to hire a criminal defense attorney immediately. Some defense that attorneys use can range from trying to prove accidental killing to self-defense justifications.
Also read Manslaughter vs. Murder – What’s the Difference?
The Time Is Right Now
When should you hire a criminal defense lawyer? Well, there’s no such thing as “too soon”. The sooner you can get them on board, the better your chances are of avoiding a lengthy legal battle that could end up with you behind bars.
While each crime has its own unique set of circumstances that define it, getting the best criminal defense lawyer who’s ready to go to bat for you is ultimately what will influence the outcome of your case.
Don’t attempt to fight criminal charges yourself. If you must, you can follow the example of Kim Kardashian studying law and do it yourself. Otherwise, always seek legal assistance.
[Browse through our list of criminal defense attorneys]
If you have more legal questions, you can also chat online with a Laws101.com attorney where you’ll be instantly connected to a lawyer who can give you legal guidance on your specific case or question.