Being charged with a crime can have life-altering consequences. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you navigate the criminal justice system and protect your rights is vital. It is also important to fully understand your rights, and there are many different ways defense lawyers can help mitigate the damage of being charged or convicted of a crime.
Explain Your Legal Rights and Options
Criminal law is complex. If you are unfamiliar with the law and how the justice system works, you may not understand the nature of the charges against you and the best way to protect yourself. Criminal defense lawyers can evaluate the charges against you, answer any questions you may have, clear up any misconceptions, and explain your legal rights and options. Your lawyer can also explain potential sentences if you are convicted and advise you on how a conviction or accepting a plea offer could affect your life.
Speak on Your Behalf
The worst thing you can do if you are suspected of or charged with a crime is talk to law enforcement officers or prosecutors without an attorney present. Your criminal defense attorney will get your side of the story and advise you on which questions you may answer and what you should and should not say.
Dispute the Evidence Against You
Your lawyer can take steps to try and discredit the evidence against you right away. For example, if law enforcement conducted an illegal search that resulted in obtaining evidence against you, your attorney can file a motion and fight to have it excluded. Some other strategies that can be effective include alleging other violations of your rights, chain of evidence issues, and concerns like entrapment or coercion.
Negotiate a Plea Bargain
Your lawyer will also talk to you about whether or not accepting a plea agreement is in your best interest. They will work hard to negotiate the most favorable outcome possible, whereas if you decide to plead guilty on your own, you may receive harsher penalties. Experienced defense lawyers usually have longstanding professional relationships with prosecutors and understand how to approach and negotiate with them.
Depending on the charges you are facing, your defense attorney may be able to help you avoid the impact of a guilty plea or conviction by recommending a diversion program, such as the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD), that may be available for some first-time offenders for charges such as DUI in Pennsylvania.
Represent You at Trial
Your attorney will thoroughly investigate your case and prepare you for trial. They also track down and prepare witnesses, and may employ the assistance of expert witnesses to poke holes in the prosecution’s case. Proving a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is challenging, and that is what a prosecutor is required to do. Your defense attorney will use their knowledge of the law, rules of evidence, and criminal procedure to dispute the prosecution’s claims. If you are convicted of a crime, your defense attorney can also act as your advocate during sentencing They may present evidence and bring up mitigating factors that could lead to a lighter sentence.
Our Chester County criminal defense attorneys understand that facing criminal charges is daunting, We believe everyone deserves the best defense possible and provide straightforward legal advice and representation without judgment.