If you have been charged with a crime, you'll want to find a skilled criminal lawyer to help you. Whether you're innocent or not, you have to defend yourself in court. Only an attorney who has done this many times can achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
Understand the Charges
It may sound obvious, but first you have to understand what crime you're being accused of. It's best not to add to the confusion and make a statement until you have spoken with your lawyer. Fortunately, you also have the right to remain silent. When you're being arrested for a crime, law enforcement must inform you of your rights and let you know what the official charges are within a reasonable amount of time.
However, even if you get a copy of the charges being filed against you, you may still not fully understand what they're accusing you of. It often takes a lawyer to understand which law you are accused of having broken. A good attorney is there to help you with the next step: planning your defense.
Create a Defense Strategy
Your lawyer is your greatest ally when it comes to building a defense. They will do the legwork and talk to witnesses and crime scene experts, and gather all the necessary information. You get a chance to tell them your side of the story and, together, we can build a defense. It's important to listen to your attorney. For example, if your attorney does not find it advisable for you to testify, then you should listen to their input.
An experienced attorney also understands where to find the loopholes in your case. For example, they understand whether a search of your property was legal and should be admitted into evidence. They understand the significance of the evidence and witness reports and will decide how to establish reasonable doubt in your case. They will also find investigators and witnesses who may poke a hole in the prosecutor's case and make their testimony less believable.
Negotiate Plea Bargains
In some cases, the attorney in charge of prosecuting your case will accept a plea bargain in exchange for a reduced sentence. If there is little chance that you won't be found guilty at trial, it may be in your best interest to accept one. However, some prosecutors won't enter into plea bargain agreement with defendants who are representing themselves. That's probably because they sense that they have a very good chance of getting the maximum sentence if it comes to a trial. Therefore, you want a skilled attorney by your side who can help you achieve the best possible terms of a plea bargain.
Explain What Happens Next
You need to know what will happen next. If your case goes to trial, what are the possible best-case and worst-case scenarios? Your lawyer should help you understand the sentencing program in your situation to help you understand how long you might be in jail.