Facing criminal charges is a scary thing. Because most people have such little exposure to the criminal justice system, a criminal charge carries with it many unknowns. Depending on the nature of the charges against you, you could be facing jail time, substantial fines and court costs, and collateral consequences like the loss of a driver’s or professional license and lost job opportunities.
Lawyers spend years training to practice law. This includes time in law school, experience gained from working on other cases, and continuing education requirements.
Working with a lawyer allows you to benefit from your lawyer’s experience of having seen the same or similar charges many times over, whereas as you are probably facing criminal charges for the first time.
The process of going to court, whether for a routine hearing or for trial, can be nerve-wracking for people who are not experienced with it. Your lawyer will be there with you, helping you to navigate the complexities of the court system.
During your initial meeting with a criminal defense lawyer, your attorney will ask questions to learn as much as possible about the case, your background, and people who can potentially act as witnesses. This helps your lawyer learn the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and develop a strategy on how to combat the evidence against you.
After the initial meeting your lawyer will begin investigating your case to try to uncover any information that can lead to an acquittal or be used to convince the prosecutor to negotiate a plea bargain.
Depending on the type of criminal charges you are facing, your lawyer’s investigation may include interviewing witnesses, visiting the scene of the alleged crime, or working with forensic experts to evaluate the evidence against you.
Your lawyer will analyze the prosecution’s evidence to develop any potential defenses to the charges. Defenses may include errors in collecting evidence, problems with the way in which you were placed under arrest, or facts that make it difficult for the prosecution to meet its burden of proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
A defendant has the constitutional right to review the prosecution’s evidence, and your criminal defense lawyer will evaluate the evidence to see if it will hold up in court, or if there are holes that can be used to weaken the prosecution’s case.
Your criminal defense lawyer will begin to develop a theory of the case. This could be that you did not commit the crime because you had an alibi, that the evidence was improperly collected, or that you were the target of a biased law enforcement officer. Many times, there are multiple elements to a lawyer’s theory of the case that come together to refute the evidence against you.
As the case progresses your lawyer will stay in touch with you to provide you with updates and explain any developments in your case.
You lawyer might challenge the evidence against you by file a Motion to Suppress, which is a formal way of asking the court to determine that some evidence may not be admissible.
Your lawyer will also communicate with you about the possible consequences of a conviction, and help you make decisions that will impact your likelihood of success if you take the case to trial or negotiate a plea bargain.
In fact, many lawyers who are charged with a crime do not represent themselves. Instead they hire a lawyer who can give them an objective analysis of their case and zealously represent them in court.
If you choose to take your case to trial your lawyer will be your advocate in court. The trial process starts with jury selection, where your lawyer will try to have jurors removed if they cannot fairly evaluate your case. Your lawyer may make an opening statement, question witnesses, and make a closing argument in an effort to convince the jury that you are not guilty.
If you are found guilty or agree to a plea bargain, your lawyer will argue for a lighter sentence, drawing the court’s attention for reasons why the court should impose a lesser sentence, such as lower fines, less jail time, or alternatives to incarceration.
Many people are reluctant to hire a criminal defense lawyer because they’re embarrassed, or afraid that talking to a lawyer will be too expensive. But in reality, the decision not to hire a lawyer can end up costing more than it would to hire one.
While hiring a skilled and experienced lawyer comes with a price, the cost can be far outweighed by a lawyer who skillfully argues for lighter fines or avoiding time in prison. Time in jail means time you are unable to work, so hiring a lawyer can save you money if you can avoid spending time in jail.
If you or someone you care about was charged with a crime in North Dakota, contact the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Fremstad Law today.
We can help by investigating the evidence against you, challenging any procedural problems with the arrest, negotiating a plea bargain, and being your voice in court.
If you are facing criminal charges, get a lawyer on your side as quickly as possible. Contact Fremstad Law’s Nick Thornton today by calling (701) 639-2326.
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