If you have been charged with a crime you probably have many questions running through your mind. Am I going to jail? Will I lose my job? How much will the fine be? Can I somehow avoid being charged for this?
Likely you are also asking yourself, “should I hire an attorney, when should I hire one, and who should I hire?” Hopefully I can help you answer these three questions.
Perhaps the first thing to consider is should you hire an attorney. When considering whether you should hire an attorney consider the nature of your case.
- What sort of consequences are you facing if convicted? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Can my case result in a criminal conviction?
- Can my case result in travel restrictions?
- Does my case carry potential jail or prison time?
- Could a conviction affect my job?
- Could a conviction affect my federal financial aid?
- Will a conviction result in me losing my license?
- Would a conviction affect my ability to carry firearms?
If the answers to these questions are no, then you may be able to handle your case on your own or pay to consult with an attorney to determine whether you can handle it on your own.
For example, in Wisconsin speeding citations result in demerit points against your license and a monetary penalty. In certain instances your license can be suspended which is dependent upon the amount of miles per hour over the speed limit for which you are convicted.
This is an example of a case that you may be able to handle on your own or pay for a consultation to learn how you can handle it on your own.
If you answered “yes” to any of the questions, then you almost surely should hire an attorney. Once you decide that you want to hire an attorney the sooner the better. There are many reasons why time is of the essence in hiring a criminal defense attorney.
- If you have not been formally charged your defense attorney may be able to either prevent charges from being filed or influence the prosecutor’s charging decision.
- If you are already formally charged, your defense attorney can begin searching for evidence to help defend your case. A criminal defense attorney will look for evidence that law enforcement either overlooked, did not know existed or disregarded as unimportant to their case. This evidence could be crucial to your defense and is oftentimes time sensitive, for example video surveillance.
- There may be time limits that must be met in order to preserve certain rights.
- People’s memories fade over time. If witnesses need to be interviewed it is important to conduct those interviews while details are fresh in their memory.
- If you are being investigated for a crime and an arrest is going to happen, your defense attorney may be able to arrange for you to turn yourself in versus being arrested at your place of work or home.
Still not sure if you should hire an attorney? Here are 7 more things you should consider while you are deciding if you need professional legal assistance.
A Criminal Defense Attorney Understands the Judicial System
- Do you know what happens at an initial appearance?
- Do you understand your rights to a preliminary hearing?
- Do you know how to file a discovery demand?
- Do you know what you should or should not say to a prosecutor when negotiating a settlement agreement?
These are just a few of the many nuances of the judicial system. An experienced criminal defense attorney knows when evidence should be challenged and how to challenge the evidence.
An experienced criminal defense attorney will identify weaknesses in the State’s case and how to use those weaknesses to the client’s advantage either through litigation or negotiations.
An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to advise you whether it is in your best interest to take a case to trial or to negotiate the best possible settlement.
Chances are that if you are not experienced in the criminal justice system you will not be able to tackle these issues on your own.
Attorneys have professional relationships with prosecutors
A lot of people believe that hiring an out of town attorney is a good idea because the local attorneys are buddies and “in cahoots” with the prosecutors.
This is not true. It is to your benefit to hire an attorney that has built relationships with the prosecutors. These relationships allow prosecutors to trust the information that defense attorneys provide to the prosecutors.
Often times a defense attorney needs additional time to work on an investigation or file a motion. When a prosecutor and defense attorney have built a professional working relationship the prosecutor is most likely not going to object when the defense attorney asks the judge for more time because the prosecutor knows the defense attorney really needs that time and is not just stalling.
A Criminal Defense Attorney Has Experience With Your Type of Case
It is important to work with an attorney that specializes in criminal defense and who does not just dabble in criminal defense matters.
A divorce attorney or bankruptcy attorney likely will not be familiar with criminal court procedure. You will immediately be at a disadvantage if you walk into court with an attorney that does not know the local court criminal procedure or protocol.
Experienced criminal defense attorneys handle a multitude of cases and become familiar with those cases. Even though all cases are different, it is likely that they will have dealt with a case similar to yours.
A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Safeguard You From Potential Harmful Effects of a Conviction
An experienced criminal defense attorney can often obtain a reduced charge, reduced penalty or dismissal of charges for you.
An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to get a felony reduced to a misdemeanor thus preventing you from becoming a convicted felon and having all the negative consequences of a felony conviction.
By reducing penalties, an attorney can help reduce jail time or even prevent their client from having to serve any jail time. Dismissal of charges is almost always the best outcome for a client.
An experienced criminal defense attorney will always review the case for police errors and use any errors on the part of law enforcement to the client’s advantage and seek dismissal of charges when the law allows.
It Is Worth The Money
There are times that you can get by with the least expensive option, choosing a criminal defense attorney is not one of those times.
What would you do if you lost your professional license due to a criminal conviction?
What would you do if you had to spend an extended period of time in jail or extra years on probation?
It is probably hard to put a dollar amount on these things, but investing in a good criminal defense attorney can help ensure that you keep your job, serve the least amount of time behind bars or the least amount of time being supervised by a probation agent.
Criminal Defense Attorneys Are Trained to Assess Law Enforcement Conduct
What law enforcement officers do or do not do is a big deal. An experienced criminal defense attorney will recognize whether police failed to do their job, either by doing something they should not have done or failed to do something they should have done.
These actions or omissions on the part of law enforcement can have crucial effects on the outcome of your case.
A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You Understand Your Case
Being charged with a crime can be extremely scary–one of the first questions you probably have is “will I have to go to jail?” An experienced criminal defense attorney will have handled numerous types of cases in different jurisdictions and can help you understand potential outcomes.
Certain criminal convictions will almost definitely carry some amount of confinement. Potential outcomes also differ on where you are charged-the potential outcomes of a drug possession case in your county may be significantly different than the potential outcomes in a different county or state.
A good lawyer will know this and be able to counsel you according to the county in which you are charged and the nature of the charge.
Hire An Eau Claire Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a crime in Eau Claire county or other counties in west central Wisconsin, hire Jessie Weber. Jessie is a criminal defense attorney in Eau Claire WI.
She has been practicing law for over 15 years and is a well respected criminal defense attorney in this part of the state. Call today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.