If you’ve ever watched a crime drama, you have probably heard it said, “You have the right to an attorney.” But have you ever thought about why you might want one? Find out what the role of a criminal defense attorney is, and how he or she can help you get out of a tight spot.
When you hire a criminal defense attorney, his or her job starts right away. Long before the jury is called or a verdict is reached, your criminal lawyer will be hard at work building your defense. The role of a criminal defense firm is partially that of an investigator. Your lawyer and law firm will review police reports, videos, and other evidence disclosed by the prosecutor, looking for weaknesses in the state’s case. Often, errors in the police report, or in the technical details of the way your case was handled can open up opportunities to enhance your defense.
Your lawyer’s team may also interview witnesses or retain private investigators to gather beneficial evidence, helping you build the defense necessary to obtain a “not guilty” verdict.
If the investigation reveals that the State has a strong case, the role of a criminal defense attorney may shift to being an advocate and negotiator. If necessary, your attorney will use their experience and connections to negotiate the best deal possible.
The decision to take a plea or go to trial is entirely up to you, the client. Before you agree to plead guilty, you need to know all the consequences, the strength of your defenses, the probability you will win at trial, and the likely penalty if the judge or jury finds you guilty. Your criminal lawyer will help educate you as to the options and will counsel you to decide whether to take the plea agreement.
Sometimes, though, the best deal is no deal. Some cases simply must go to trial. That’s when the third part of a criminal defense attorney’s role kicks in: the storyteller. Whether the case is tried in front of just the judge or a jury, your attorney will tell your side of the story.
A skilled criminal defense attorney uses the law, favorable evidence, and carefully worded examination questions to demonstrate the holes in the state’s case.
The rest of that line in the crime drama says, “if you can’t afford a lawyer one will be appointed to you.” That lawyer is a public defender. Their jobs are the same as the privately hired criminal defense lawyer, except they get paid by the state. They are available to anyone who does not have the money to hire a private lawyer.
While most public defenders are dedicated public servants, they often have far more cases than they have time to adequately prepare. That can mean defendants who rely on public defenders may not have the same access to their attorney as they would to an attorney they retained.
Don’t leave your freedom and your future up to chance. If you have been charged with a crime, talk to a private criminal defense attorney right away. He or she can help you investigate, negotiate, and defend against the charges so you can keep living your life.
Lance McCoy of The McCoy Law Firm, LLC, is a criminal and DUI defense attorney with 25 years of experience. From his family-owned law firm in Cartersville, Georgia, he represents defendants facing misdemeanor and felony charges throughout northwest Georgia. If you have a court date scheduled, please contact Criminal & DUI Law of Georgia so we can begin working on your case right away.