What you Need to Know About Criminal Defense

Are you facing criminal charges? If you are, you most definitely need a criminal defense attorney to explain your rights to you and fight the charges for you. This is never a task you should take on yourself.

What types of crimes are criminal cases?

There are more criminal laws than you can quickly count but here is a basic rundown of the general criminal law areas.
  • Crimes against children
  • Drug crimes
  • Property crimes
  • Sex crimes
  • Traffic charges
  • Violent crime charges
  • White collar crimes

What happens after someone gets arrested?

When someone gets arrested they are taken to jail and interviewed by police. They are then booked and a bail hearing is set, if bail is an option for them. Sometimes courts will have standard bail schedules so bail will be determined prior to getting in front of a judge. Other times, defendants are released on “on their own recognizance” which means the defendant promises, typically in written form, to show up for all court dates. This is generally based on the defendant’s history, standing in the community and the crime in question. In cases where bail is not set by the judge, a defendant’s first court appearance is typically their arraignment. The judge generally covers the following during the arraignment:
  • Criminal charges are read
  • Defendant is asked if he/she has a criminal defense attorney
  • Defendant is asked to enter a plea of “guilty”, “not guilty” or “no contest”
  • Bail may be reduced or defendant may be released on their own recognizance
  • Future court dates are set

What happens if I cannot afford an attorney?

The U.S. Constitution gives all criminal defendants the right to legal representation during criminal prosecutions. If you cannot afford an attorney, you will receive a court appointed attorney who will work the case pro bono. Pro bono work is done voluntarily, without pay.

What are possible consequences of being convicted of criminal crimes?

The penalties received during the sentencing phase of a criminal proceeding will vary and be affected by several things, such as:
  • Defendant’s criminal history
  • Defendant’s expression of regret/remorse for the crime committed
  • Defendant’s economic, personal and social circumstances
  • Nature of the crime, how it was committed, impact on the victim
All things considered, the defendant could be looking at any of the following:
  • Community service
  • Drug or alcohol treatment programs
  • Fines
  • Jail or prison sentence
  • Probation
  • Restitution (paid to the victim of the crime)
  • Suspended sentence (if probation is violated)

When and how can I appeal my case?

Generally after your conviction, you can appeal your case. By appealing your case you are asking a higher court to review your case and decide whether or not any errors were made. Your defense attorney will argue for one of the following:
  • Case should be dismissed
  • New criminal trial
  • New sentence
You can’t introduce new evidence during the appeal. Briefs will be written and submitted by the defense and prosecuting attorneys. Those combined with the evidence presented at your criminal trial, and the transcript from that trial, will be used by the appellate court to make a decision. Appeals may take several months to be heard and decided upon but they must be filed quickly after the initial sentencing.

When should I hire a criminal defense attorney?

You should hire a criminal defense attorney as soon after you get arrested as possible. This is a very messy situation to navigate yourself through on your own. A lot is at stake here and your best defense is a professional one.