What Criminal Lawyers Do
Criminal lawyers represent their clients in lawsuits that are initiated by the government. Their clients are individuals or groups who have been accused of acts that are crimes of some sort. It could be a misdemeanor, which is a less serious crime like drunk driving, or it could be a felony, which is a serious crime like murder that could end in jail time or even the death penalty. Many people think of felonies when they think of criminal lawyers, but criminal lawyers also represent plaintiffs who are facing misdemeanor charges.
Criminal Lawyers Early in a Defense
Many people who are being charged with a crime wait to hire a lawyer. Perhaps they think the charges will be dropped, or maybe they think that the potential punishment does not warrant the cost of hiring a lawyer. They may think they can represent themselves in an attempt to save money. Whatever the reason, this is a dangerous idea, because criminal lawyers can often be of the most help early in the process.
One way that a lawyer can help is by negotiating a dismissal of the case. Lawyers know how to spot potential weaknesses in the prosecutor's defense. Sometimes by presenting these weaknesses to the prosecuting attorney, they can help to negotiate a dismissal of the charge before the charges are officially filed.
A lawyer can also help a plaintiff by helping to negotiate a plea bargain. This involves an admission of guilt in return for a lessening of the potential consequences and an avoidance of the courtroom appearance. Many people charged with misdemeanors can avoid much of the expense of a court case by plea-bargaining.
Plaintiffs who are involved in crimes that are part of an ongoing investigation can use a criminal lawyer to help negotiate a lesser sentence in return for cooperation in the investigation. For instance, if a plaintiff knows information about another aspect of the crime that could help the prosecutors capture a high-profile criminal, the prosecutor may be willing to drop some charges in return for that information. A lawyer knows how to approach the police or the prosecutor to present this proposition.
Tips for Working with a Criminal Lawyer
If you are in a position where you need the services of a criminal lawyer, you need to work with your lawyer to ensure that your defense goes as smoothly as possible. Even if you are just facing minor charges, your lawyer is the only person who can help lower those charges and save you thousands of dollars and protect certain freedoms that you could lose with a "guilty" conviction.
No matter what, do not discuss your case with anyone other than your lawyer. Anything that you say about your case outside of your lawyer's office could be repeated in the courtroom. Your lawyer operates under "attorney-client privilege," which means that he cannot be forced to share with anyone what you tell him in confidence. Other people in your life do not have this protection.
Be honest and upfront with your lawyer. He cannot help you if you do not tell him exactly what happened, even if it makes you look bad. Answer all questions, and let your lawyer lead the defense. He knows how to best present the information so that you are honest, yet appear as guilt-free as possible to the jury or judge. Remember, your attorney is on your side, so treat him and his staff with respect as you work through your case.
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Article Added on Monday, January 5, 2009
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