Law enforcement is accusing you of a criminal offense. Where do you turn for help?
Being found guilty of a serious crime is a life-changing event that can result in a criminal record, fines and may even mean years in prison. It is essential to get a reliable criminal defense lawyer on your side to make sure you receive proper representation.
Read on to find out more about the criminal defense process and how the right lawyer can help you.
What is a Criminal Case?
There are many types of offenses that qualify as a criminal case. These are as follows:
- Murder Defense
- Drug Crime Defense
- Weapons Charge Defense
- Computer Crime Defense
- Sexual Abuse Defense
- Probation Violation Defense
- Domestic Violence Defense
- Robbery Defense
- Fraud Defense
- DUI Defense
- Identity Theft Defense
Why Do I Need a Criminal Lawyer to Represent Me?
Being accused of a serious crime is no laughing matter. You can end up with a criminal record, owing much money in fines and even losing your freedom.
You may think it is easy enough to defend yourself, but if you make the wrong move or say the wrong thing, your life could change forever.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer has a good understanding of the law. They know how to present your case, how to speak to a judge and negotiate with other parties. They will help you gather evidence to build a strong case giving you the highest odds of being found not guilty or serving a reduced sentence.
Can I Use a Public Defender?
A public defender is someone that is assigned to represent someone who can’t afford a lawyer. For many, public defenders are the only choice they have when it comes to legal representation. However, those with any budget will find that a criminal defense lawyer is a worthwhile investment.
Public defenders generally have high caseloads because they deal with a high caseload. It can be difficult for them to give each case the amount of attention they require.
In a criminal case, you want to make sure you go with a lawyer who can focus on your situation and do all they can to protect your freedom.
What is a Plea Agreement?
Plea agreements are a way of resolving a criminal case before it goes to trial. Avoiding the courtroom is ideal because it reduces legal costs and relieves some of the burdens that fall on the justice system’s shoulders.
Plea bargains usually result in some conviction for the prosecutor while minimizing the stress of a trial’s unpredictable outcome. They often provide a fair settlement for both the solicitor and the defendant.
Plea agreements will not work in every situation, especially if the prosecution has a strong case and acquittal seems unlikely. That’s why your criminal defense lawyer must have what it takes to negotiate an agreement that is favorable to both parties.
What’s the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?
The main difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is that misdemeanor crimes are less severe in nature and are punishable by a shorter potential jail sentence. Most misdemeanors result in a year or less of jail time and may even be paid off by a fine and community service.
Felonies are more severe crimes and are punished accordingly.
Each state has its laws which better define the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor. The state of South Carolina has a Code of Laws which specifies which crimes are felonies and which are misdemeanors. However, no matter which you are accused of, it is essential to realize that both types of crimes can have a severe impact on your life.
The right criminal defense attorney can work to protect your rights regardless of the severity of the crime of which you are accused.
I’ve Been Arrested. What Should I Do First?
You have the right to remain silent. Silence is your constitutional right and one you should take advantage of if you are arrested.
As soon as the police confront you, you are likely being videotaped and anything you say can and will be held against you. Therefore, it is best not to say anything that could be incriminating.
Be polite and cooperative providing any personal information that is requested like your name and driver’s license, but does not give any details about your case.
Then call a criminal defense attorney as soon as you get a chance. He or she will advise you on the best course of action.
Can A Prior Conviction Come Back to Haunt Me?
If you have been accused of criminal activity and you have a prior conviction on your record, be prepared to have that conviction used against you.
Of course, the severity of the prior conviction and its relevance to the crime you are currently being accused of will also be considered. However, unfortunately, prior convictions are likely to come up in your case and could come into play at any point in your case from your bond hearing to your final sentencing.
What is a Bond?
A bond, or bail, is money that is put down to ensure the person accused of the crime ends up showing up in court when they are supposed to. If the person shows up at the appointed date, the money will be returned to them regardless of whether or not they end up being found guilty.
If they do not show up, they have violated the conditions of the bond, and they will end up forfeiting the money.
In minor cases, like misdemeanors and traffic offenses, a bond usually isn’t required. Instead, the defendant will be issued a citation and released on their recognizance. This means that the court will accept their word and trust that they will appear without requiring any deposit.
However, in more serious crimes, courts will request bail money to ensure the defendant returns.
The bail amount is crucial. If you are unable to come up with the money, you may have to stay in jail until the time of your hearing. The right criminal defense attorney will negotiate the bond to get you an amount you can afford, and that satisfies the court so that they feel confident you are not going to flee.
What Should I Look for In a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
If you have been accused of a crime, the task of finding the right criminal lawyer can get a bit overwhelming. There are a lot of lawyers out there that make many claims. How do you know whom you can trust?
The best thing to do is to start by researching lawyers. Ask friends and relatives about lawyers they may have used in the past. Look for customer reviews online.
Once you have found a lawyer, you think you can trust, meet with them in person to see if they are a good fit. Be sure to ask plenty of questions like:
- How much experience have they had with criminal cases?
- How long have they practiced law?
- How many cases have they handled?
- What is their success rate?
- How many cases have they tried in front of a jury?
- How much do they charge, and how do they get compensated?
If you have any misgivings about your potential relationship, it is best to keep looking. Likely, negative feelings will only worsen over time.
How to Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer
However, no matter how difficult it may be to find the right criminal lawyer, this will be a crucial step in your defense. Finding someone who is experienced and whom you feel you can trust can make all the difference when it comes to how you will be spending the rest of your life.
If you are looking for a lawyer in the South Carolina area, the McCutchen, McLean & Van Syckel team are highly recommended. They have a team of caring lawyers with years of experience in the field of criminal defense. They treat every client as an individual giving each case the care and attention required to protect the rights and freedom of the people they represent.
If you are accused of a criminal offense, it is essential to find a reliable lawyer who will do all they can to defend you. Talk to the McCutchen, McLean & VanSyckel team to find out how they can help keep you out of jail and keep fines minimal. This is your life; don’t trust it to just anyone. Call the McCutchen, McLean and VanSyckel team today.
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