Criminal law and its operation is the subject of daily media reports, but until anyone is actually faced with a criminal prosecution or defense there an be considerable confusion regarding just how to achieve the best, possible outcome.
There are more than 100 million cases filed each year in state trial courts in the United States, while roughly 400,000 cases are filed in federal trial courts.
And with differing state laws (we practice in as a criminal defense lawyer in Staten Island,) there is the need to have an attorney familiar with state laws affecting any criminal case with expertise and experience within the specific jurisdiction and in the area(s) of criminal law with which you are dealing.
It can be a daunting task of course, particularly given the stress involved with facing any criminal case, but the need to undertake the due diligence necessary to have an attorney able to deal with your particular case both competently and by ‘asking the right questions’ is paramount.
But what are the steps that need to be taken to achieve that objective?
Here are some to help make the process both simpler, and more successful.
Some criminal defense lawyers will provide a free consultation, which can be an opportunity for you to learn about them and vice versa. If they are serious about having you as a client, they will explain the case in-depth and the steps needed and should do so in a manner that leaves you satisfied that they are aware of the law, with experience in the area, and that also leave you satisfied that they are capable of handling your case to your satisfaction.
Remember too that this is obviously an anxious time. You need to be able to communicate with your attorney so that you are aware of the developments that occur, questions that will arise, stress factors that will be addressed in a factual but empathetic manner.
You should ask the attorney if it’s OK to call them throughout the case to discuss any concerns you may have as things progress.
Ask them whether you will be receiving updates on the status of the case – in writing or by phone, and who will be your main point of contact (oftentimes it will be a paralegal).
Criminal Law is Complicated
Criminal law itself is not straightforward, which means you require an expert to guide you through this difficult time. If you are facing an upcoming trial, you will want to know the consequences of what you agree to, and if there are any plea deals.
There are various options that will present themselves as the case develops, all or any of which will provide you with key questions and decisions that need to be made regarding the manner in which the case should proceed. You may want to hurry your case along – to put it all behind you – and working alongside the prosecutor might seem like the best option. However, it could work against you too and having someone explain the up- and downside options is key to working through the process.
Negotiating the Result of My Case
Your lawyer will want the best possible outcome, meaning fighting for the minimum sentence for your crime. Each charge impacts your future in a multitude of different ways.
If you choose to go alone, you could arrive unprepared for what could happen in court and the outcome may well be something that you are not going to like. However, an experienced lawyer has already seen how this case pans out and will fight on your behalf.
Once again, the decisions here depend upon the charge(s), the lawyer, the experience they have and the communication process that is developed to let you work through the options as they arise.
Gathering the Evidence
Your lawyer will ask you a lot of questions and will dig deep to find what they need to present your case. Lawyers might even involve the police to check there is no loophole in their procedure, which is obviously something that will be carefully examined.
Sometimes witnesses are called to testify and to back you and a good criminal lawyer will be able to properly examine or cross-examine witnesses, identifying flaws in their evidence and other issues that can have a potentially enormous effect upon the outcome of the case.
Your lawyer also has more rights than you in terms of how they go about examining and handling evidence, documents, procedural matters and the like. They can identify issues with the prosecution case and other matters that can assist you, as client.
The Court Date
Should you need to go to court, your lawyer has the power to contest a juror if they feel they wouldn’t give a fair evaluation. If they get a bad feeling about a member of the jury, they can ask to have them removed. By being able to make changes to the jury often makes a significant difference with sentencing.
The sentencing process is something that is of the utmost importance when choosing a criminal defense attorney who can properly and competently present yourself to the court in a manner that best serves your interests. Also of importance is having an attorney who is respected by the court, which means your own ‘due diligence’ in attorney selection becomes more important.
If your case has landed in court, then a criminal defense lawyer will handle your outcome and this is equally important. Your attorney manages all the negotiations and plea bargains that might either reduce or dispose of any charges.
Now you see that the right lawyer makes all the difference. Judges are looking to keep people from getting back into the system and therefore are open to you attending a program for your sentence. You can even avoid lengthy trails and get your life back on track.
Yan Katsnelson PC is a Staten Island-based criminal defense law firm. See the LawFuel listing here.