If you have been charged with a crime, you may find your world turned upside down as you try to determine your next steps. Conflicting information can come from all directions with friends, family, and law enforcement weighing in on what actions you should take next. You probably realize that whatever happens next has the potential to impact your life for a long time, so it’s important to make decisions with care and attention to details. Unfortunately, navigating the criminal justice system can be anything but simple, so having a qualified, experienced criminal attorney by your side — and on your side — can make a very big difference.
This is not the time to rely on luck or take advice from those who don’t have all the facts or your best interest in mind. This is the time to bring a criminal attorney onto your team to make sure that you get the very best defense and can move on with your life in the smoothest, least traumatic way possible. If you’re not sure if hiring a criminal attorney is the best course of action, consider these details.
1. Plea Bargains are Complicated and Risky
When you’re facing charges of a serious crime, a lot of your attention is on avoiding the worst possible outcome. For crimes that potentially end in lengthy prison sentences — or even the death penalty — a plea bargain can be a very attractive offer. While accepting a lesser penalty in exchange for your admission of guilt can sound quite tempting, it’s not always the best course of action. In fact, research into the high incarceration rate in the United States found that only two percent of federal prosecutions went to trial. This is because prosecutors often turn to plea bargains as a tool to make their work easier.
Clark Neily, Vice President for criminal justice at the Cato Institute, explains that “American prosecutors are equipped with a fearsome array of tools they can use to extract confessions and discourage people from exercising their right to a jury trial.” These coercive plea deals are so effective that many convicted individuals — some studies say up to 20 percent — have pleaded guilty to crimes they did not commit.
You may think that this could never happen to you and that you are capable of navigating a plea bargain on your own, but it’s important to remember that prosecutors have experience, expertise, and the weight of a system designed to help them operate smoothly on their side. You shouldn’t face these challenges on your own, and a criminal attorney can help you navigate a plea deal.
2. Who You Know is as Important as What You Know
You’ve heard it before: “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” An experienced criminal attorney is someone with the connections, personal relationships, and understanding of your local court systems to make things go more smoothly. Many criminal attorneys have professional relationships with prosecutors, judges, and individuals in law enforcement that makes their expertise and knowledge invaluable. Having an expert criminal attorney on your side means that you are not just one face in a sea of statistics. You are represented by someone recognizable and known to the very system you are working within.
3. You Need Honest Advice
Facing a serious criminal charge is likely one of the most difficult and emotionally draining experiences of your life. With your reputation, personal relationships, career, and very freedom on the line, emotions are running high. We know all too well that emotional thinking is often not rational thinking, and those under emotional duress can make rash decisions. As Amy Morin, licensed clinical social worker and psychology instructor, explains, “Intense emotions can lead to rash decisions, and anger and embarrassment may make you particularly vulnerable to high-risk, low-payoff choices.”
Facing a criminal charge can lead to emotions of anxiety, anger, fear, frustration, and desperation. This is not the place from which you want to be making decisions that have a lifelong impact. When you have a qualified criminal attorney working alongside you, cooler heads will prevail. Your criminal attorney will be able to offer advice that is logical and coming from a place of honesty and expertise.
4. Your Finances are at Risk
Most of the time, people who are torn about hiring a criminal attorney are thinking about the immediate expenses of legal representation. What they don’t always think about, however, are the long-term expenses of not having an adequate defense team. The penalties that accompany serious criminal charges may have a cascade of financial impacts that can last for years — or even the rest of your life. Individuals facing criminal penalties can lose their job, and convictions can make it difficult to return to the workforce. Navigating the criminal justice system comes with its own set of expenses for fees as well.
The immediate cost of a criminal attorney can be a small price to pay for the long-term financial freedom of avoiding the most devastating monetary impacts of a criminal conviction.
5. A Criminal Attorney Understands Your Options
Perhaps the most compelling reason to choose a criminal attorney is that, without one, you may be missing the full picture. Prosecutors are under no obligation to explain all the potential consequences of any choice that you make. A guilty plea or a conviction could have long-lasting impacts on your ability to work, vote, or own a gun. You may also not get a full understanding of the evidence that prosecutors have against you since it is always in their best interest to present the facts as if they have a rock-solid case.
A qualified criminal attorney can fill in the gaps. Make decisions knowing that you have all the information available rather than just what the prosecutors want you to see.
If you are facing a serious criminal charge, hiring a criminal attorney is the best way to protect yourself and make sure that you get the representation you need and deserve. Contact us right away for a free consultation.