If you’ve been arrested, charged with a crime, or are a person of interest in a crime, the first thing you should do is consult a criminal defense attorney. Many believe that having a criminal defense attorney isn’t necessary if they are innocent, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Proving your innocence to law enforcement will be more complicated than simply stating your innocence.
And while you have the right to represent yourself or use a court-appointed attorney, having a skilled criminal defense attorney representing you and your best interests gives you a better chance of having charges reduced, or even being acquitted. Keep reading to learn why you should hire a criminal defense attorney, even if you are innocent.
Your Sixth Amendment Rights
The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees your right to a speedy and public trial, legal counsel, an impartial jury, the right to know who is accusing you of the crime, the nature of the charges, and what evidence there is against you. These rights are guaranteed for a misdemeanor as well as felony offenses.
Based on the Sixth Amendment, you have the right to represent yourself, or, if you want legal representation but cannot afford it, the Sixth Amendment states that you can have a court-appointed attorney at the state’s expense.
Why You Shouldn’t Represent Yourself
Just because you have the right to represent yourself doesn’t mean you should. A prosecutor’s job is to win a case, and they will not change the way they approach a case simply because you chose to represent yourself.
If you choose to represent yourself, the courts will take steps to ensure that you are aware of your decision and that you are competent enough to decide to give up your right to counsel voluntarily. It’s also possible that the judge may refuse your request or they may appoint a standby attorney to help you. When you choose to represent yourself, you cannot claim later that you had inadequate representation or that you were denied counsel.
Why You Should Avoid a Court-Appointed Attorney
If you choose a court-appointed attorney, you must use the attorney that the court decides to give you. Therefore, you cannot choose which attorney will represent you, and you will also not have access to your attorney 24/7. In addition, court-appointed attorneys often carry an overwhelming caseload, meaning that your case may not get the attention it deserves.
By hiring a criminal defense attorney, you avoid these issues and get an attorney who has an in-depth knowledge of criminal law and can develop strategies that result in a dismissal of your case.
Benefits of Using a Criminal Defense Attorney
Here are some benefits you gain by hiring a criminal defense attorney.
- They understand the court system – Even for people who work in it daily, the legal system can be confusing. An experienced criminal defense attorney knows the ins and outs of the court system and can help guide you based on the facts of your case.
- They can negotiate for you – If you choose to represent yourself or opt for a court-appointed attorney, the prosecutor may not offer to negotiate. A criminal defense attorney can negotiate plea deals or sentencing on your behalf and advise you on any consequences of accepting a plea deal or verdict.
- They have relationships with prosecutors – Over time, defense attorneys develop relationships with other attorneys, particularly prosecutors. If your attorney has a good relationship with the prosecutor, they may be able to negotiate a better deal for you.
- They have experience with cases like yours – An experienced criminal defense attorney has worked with cases like yours before, so they know what they need to do to get the outcome you desire.
- They can protect your future – A good criminal defense attorney will work to protect your future. They may be able to get the charges reduced, lessen penalties, or even get your case dismissed. And even if you aren’t charged or convicted, that arrest can remain on your record and have a negative impact on your life. They can help make sure your record stays clean.
- They can review the investigation – Often, if a suspect has been arrested, police will stop looking for someone else and stop looking for evidence that could hurt their case. Your criminal defense attorney can review the investigation and the evidence that has been gathered and hunt for further evidence that they can use in your defense.
Widder Law Can Work For You to Help Keep Charges From Becoming Convictions
If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, it’s vital to contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. Doing so does not make you look guilty. Instead, it shows that you are smart and know your rights.
At Widder Law, we are dedicated to giving our clients a voice. We have years of trial experience focusing on criminal defense and have represented hundreds of clients charged with various criminal offenses. We will fight to protect your rights and your future.
We’re ready to help. Contact us today for a free consultation.