Criminal convictions can be very damaging to the life of a defendant, especially when charges are filed against generally law-abiding individuals who are caught in a bad place at a bad time and cannot negotiate a settlement to the issue. Police officials regularly file charges or request indictments on every individual who may be connected to criminal activity in an effort to incarcerate as many people as possible while flushing out the real criminals. This is actually very common following drug investigations. Avoiding a charge can be a real incentive for people who are charged on borderline evidence and are requested to turn testimony for the state when the case is being prosecuted. Even those who are not centrally involved and have no willful intent per se will need professional legal representation when the conviction could result in jail time and leaving your fate to a public defender is not always a successful option or a good decision. This scenario is a regular problem in a metropolis like New York City where prosecutors are overly serious about deterring crime. What this means is that anyone who is charged with a crime, regardless of intent or level of involvement, will need an aggressive and experienced Manhattan criminal lawyer representing their case.
All evidence presented in a criminal case is not necessarily admissible, especially when it has been acquired outside of standard protocol. Public defenders are rarely diligent when evaluating evidence, often wanting to negotiate a guilty plea agreement at the request of the prosecutors they work with daily. Having a personal criminal defense attorney means each and every item being used for prosecution can be evaluated to the fullest extent of the law, including questioning the arresting officers and any other defendants who can assist in a case dismissal. Public defenders work for the same state that is prosecuting the case, and having your own legal team is a necessity even when the case is weak at best.
Many times the state brings charges that are valid in many respects and will result in some level of conviction. Your personal Manhattan criminal defense lawyer can negotiate a case settlement that a novice defendant could never accomplish, including requiring contracts with the prosecutor regarding the final dissolution of the case. Solid representation includes comprehensive representation, especially when retaining a criminal defense attorney is an investment in your personal future as well as your freedom. A fair agreement in a case is more often the result when the defendant has a known and reputable criminal defense attorney that the state feels comfortable with when reaching an agreement. And, this is even more true when the prosecutor knows your legal counsel is willing to take a criminal charge to a jury trial. Prosecutors do not like trying cases unless they are attempting to make a point to the public, and thorough representation means willingness to defend a client fully.
It is never a good decision to attempt handling a criminal case personally. Technicalities can matter, and the court is always difficult when they do not want to apply the entire range of legal aspects and respect the rights of the defendant completely. This situation always takes a focused Manhattan criminal lawyer who is intent on achieving the most positive outcome of a case as is possible, whether the state’s case is strong or not. Criminal convictions have a way of disrupting the entire future and family of a defendant, as there are usually many more individuals involved than merely the defendant. Always get a lawyer to fight criminal charges, and make sure you hire a good one who knows the local court system.
If you have been charged with a crime or have otherwise found yourself in some type of legal predicament, you may feel very overwhelmed at the thought of having to face certain criminal charges. It can be overwhelming at best to face the idea of having to defend yourself in a court of law, and you may not have any idea as to where to start when it comes to creating a solid defense. No matter the crime, it’s always beneficial to discuss your situation with a seasoned criminal defense lawyer.
Now, if you watch television shows, you’ve surely heard from time to time a character saying that he’ll “plead the fifth”. But, do you even know what that means? And if you do, you’re probably wondering what that has to do with you. And why is it even important? If you’ve been charged with a crime, you’ll want to know more about the Fifth Amendment and why it applies to you. Better yet, it’s helpful to understand that the Fifth Amendment can actually help you.
The Fifth Amendment
When you plead the fifth, it means that you are declining to provide evidence that can be otherwise self-incriminating. The “fifth” is referring to the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This amendment provides the right for an individual to refuse to answer questions that could ultimately connect you to a crime.
From there, the Fifth Amendment ties into a couple of other legal issues, specifically the Miranda rights and the Bill of Rights. Miranda Rights notifies you of your right to remain silent while you’re in police custody. The Bill of Rights warns that no individual shall be a witness against himself, nor shall they be deprived of property, life and liberty without “due process of the law.”
Waiving Your Right
You do have the right to waive the Fifth Amendment and take the stand in your own defense. This is an issue that you should ultimately discuss with your legal defense team.
What If You’re Guilty?
If you are guilty of the crime and subsequently want to admit guilt, you could discuss the possibility of a plea bargain. A plea bargain can help you answer to lesser consequences while still “paying” for your wrongdoing.
If you don’t want to take a gamble on the court process, a plea bargain could be the way to go.
A plea bargain not only can help you as the defendant, but it can also help the prosecution as well. This is because when a defendant takes a plea bargain, the prosecution still gets a guilty plea. A plea bargain can save both time and money on both the end of the prosecution and defense. Lastly, the prosecution secures a guilty verdict and the defendant faces less risk than if he took his case before a judge or jury.
What the Defendant Gains
A plea bargain can also help the defendant because the charges can be dropped or lessened altogether. For example, you can be charged with three misdemeanors, but as part of the plea bargain, the defendant can plead guilty to one or two of those charges, while having the third charge dropped altogether.
It’s best if you discuss your particular situation with an attorney. Before you’ve even retained your criminal court lawyer, make sure that you do not speak to any law enforcement officer. Plead the Fifth and call your lawyer. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will sit down with you, take a look at the facts surrounding your case, and work for the best possible outcome.
Most people don’t have a dedicated lawyer who handles all legal affairs of their family. And even if that’s the case, every attorney has a more or less narrow specialization, and cannot be fully competent to practice both civil and criminal law, not to mention all the countless fields of each of them. However, sooner or later the necessity may arise – you might need legal help for signing a business contract, buy real estate, apply for an immigrant visa, file a divorce or you may even need a lawyer to represent you in a criminal investigation or to defend you in court. Finding the right lawyer is crucial as it may help avoid unnecessary legal problems in future as well as settle the current case successfully.
The Importance of Hiring the Right Attorney
Searching for the right lawyer may seem like a no-brainer to some – just ask for referrals from a friend or family, take a public defender for a criminal charge settlement or go without a lawyer at all in some case that seems especially easy. But actually it is not so easy as a lot is at stake. Going to the driving under the influence hearing without a lawyer can cost you your driving license and, in some cases, a few years of freedom. Hiring a wrong kind of immigration attorney can make you a fraud victim or even make you an accomplice – without you even knowing it. On the other hand, with an experienced and skilled attorney at your side, the best outcome becomes much more possible. Therefore, it is necessary to learn and follow some guidelines when hiring a legal counsel. Here is what you should bear in mind before setting out on this task.
Things to Consider Before Starting to Look for Attorney
The first thing you should know by now is that any lawyer should have a valid license, otherwise he or she can’t provide you most legal services and is not allowed to practice law. Paralegals and notaries public can’t be referred to for legal advice.
The next obvious thing is that all cases fall into two categories – civil law and criminal law. These are two vastly different fields, each requiring specific expertise.
Another thing to consider is that each of these two categories can also be divided into a wide range of practice areas. There are attorneys who specialize exclusively in family law and divorces, others have combined expertise in a number of legal fields, for example, healthcare fraud and insurance fraud defense. But anyway, a single lawyer can’t be a pro in all existing practice areas.
Where to Find Info about New York Attorneys
Ask advice from people you trust: advice of close family and friends, business associates who had a situation similar to yours can be very helpful. Mind though that each specific case is different from others, so the choice that worked for someone else perfectly may not be suitable for you.
Use the website of American Bar Association to find your local lawyer referral service. You can surely find one in your community, some of them offer help in searching for an attorney to specific groups of people, like immigrants, people with a disability, etc. If you’re looking for a New York lawyer, visit the website of New York State Bar Association – nysba.org.
Browse the Internet. Government websites and directories may turn out to be useful when searching for an attorney with specific qualifications. Government websites have .gov in the URL address. You can also use Yelp and Avvo, crowdsourced review websites, to find a lawyer near you specializing in a particular law area and read real-user reviews of the lawyer’s past performance.
These sources might turn out to be very helpful. However, given the number of scammers out there, be careful so that you don’t fall victim to fraud. Don’t take anything you read or hear at face value. Take your time to find more information about the law firm you are about to contact, as most of them charge for consultations, and you surely don’t want to waste your time and money in vain. You may look out for logos of the American Bar Association, the NYSBA, if it’s a New York attorney, and other government organizations on their websites. But keep in mind that each case has its own peculiarities, and yours may not be like 99% of them.
Recommendations on Searching a New York City Criminal Defense Attorney
Finding the right criminal defense attorney is especially important, since in this case a negative outcome may have extremely severe consequences. Unlike in civil courts, here penalties are much harsher, and may include decades in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Having a criminal offense on one’s record makes it very hard to find a good job and may ruin one’s professional and personal reputation. A skilled legal counsel can make all the difference in such a situation. Here are some guidelines on what to do before making the final choice.
Ask a lot of questions. Ask about the lawyer’s experience in dealing with cases similar to yours, how long he or she has been practicing law, what is their success track record, how much caseload will be dedicated to your case, will your case be outsourced, etc. You may also wish to ask for references from the attorney’s clients, but criminal lawyers can refuse to provide such information for reasons of confidentiality.
Make sure you know how much you’ll be paying. Of course, it is almost impossible to tell how much time the attorney will spend settling your case. Still, you can ask about other people working on the case and their rates, as well as any extra expenses involved, like filing fees, postage, etc. Be sure to learn about how the fees are structured.
Establish a reporting routine. Make sure in advance that you’ll be informed about any changes in the case as they appear.
That may not be a deal-breaker, but choose a legal counsel who is easily accessible. If it takes too much time to get to the attorney’s office, you may wish to search for another one.
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