Top 10 Reasons to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Yes, there are a lot of people who do represent themselves in court and make it out okay. There are just as many people who end up losing their case on technicalities or even improper court procedures. When it comes to criminal cases, you do not want to go into court unprepared.
There is a long list of procedures to be followed when going to court. When the stakes are higher than a simple fine or parking ticket, you need to have a criminal defense lawyer in your corner.
Let's take a closer look at why lawsuits are harder to win while self-representing and why the chances of winning are higher with a lawyer.
Distinguishing Civil Law and Criminal Law
Entering civil litigation will always deal with two or more private parties against each other. In contrast, criminal litigation pits you versus the state or federal government. A criminal defense lawyer can argue in your favour whether any crime was committed or that it was a misdemeanour, not a felony (indictable offense).
For reference, a misdemeanour is categorized as a minor offence, such as a traffic ticket, petty theft, or small possession of an illegal substance. A felony always includes a prison sentence which often carries a punishment of at least one year in jail. The offences range from violent crimes of rape, assault, and murder to non-violent crimes of forgery, drug trafficking, and grand theft.
The burden of proof is also much higher for criminal law than civil law. To win a civil lawsuit, the plaintiff needs to only prove that the defendant is 51% liable for damages incurred (balance of probablities). Criminal lawsuits can only be won when the prosecution can prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the defendant committed the crime.
Without proper evidence on your side, you could be falsely charged and convicted without physical evidence. That's just the tip of the iceberg. Here are ten more reasons why you need to hire a criminal defense lawyer.
10 Advantages of a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Win your case in court with confidence with everything that a criminal defense team can bring to the table.
1. Law Can Be Treacherous
Navigating law by yourself can be long and almost endless. It's like peeling back layers of an onion with only your hands. You might get the surface figured out, but after that, you'll have to deal with a lot of pain and confusion.
Not only is the law written in such a complicated and foreign format, it is constantly changing. You need a criminal defense lawyer to avoid getting trapped in legal loopholes or self-incriminating tactics. Lawyers have to undergo over a years of dedicated learning, practicing, and updating their knowledge of the law.
2. Following Procedures
Every step you take while fighting a criminal case gets scrutinized and potentially penalized. A good lawyer is not going to let you compromise your own defense before even setting foot in court. There's a ton of paperwork and only one proper way of processing them.
These legal hurdles are often an artificial block preventing access to courts by those disadvantaged. Many prosecutors will use this fact to their advantage. This is easily observed in the appeals process, which can bury the accused in litigation and paperwork.
The courts often contain bottlenecks, rigid deadlines, and procedures that can rob you of personal responsibilities. A good law firm can put together entire teams that work together to make sure all the T's get crossed and I's get dotted. The prosecution has the full power and resource of the state behind them; make sure you have a dedicated team on your side to counter the formidable resource the government can bring to bear against you. As a matter of fact, you are more likely to win a plea bargain because the government values quick judgments over long, uncertain cases when they know they are up against a seasoned and experienced lawyer.
3. Over-budgeting Can Cost You
You should consider hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer. If you insist on self-representing to save on lawyer fees, you could shoot yourself in the foot. The margin for error is small when preparing for court. If you miss-file or miss a deadline, you will pay.
You will not only lose on the time it took to file, you'll also get hit with heavy fees. With a criminal trial, you literally can't afford to make a mistake. All that money you saved by self-representing will mean nothing in jail. A good lawyer is going to eliminate these variables based on human error.
Emotions often get in the way of defending ourselves. This is especially true when our freedom is at stake. It's okay to be emotional when accused of something you did not do. Leave these emotions for after the verdict is decided in your favour.
4. Losing a Case, But Still Winning
Even with the evidence piled high against your case, a lawyer can work miracles. There are various perks to being an experienced lawyer, one of those is tenacity. They can present a convincing argument towards the judge and jury to minimize charges.
Instead of years in prison, they can offer to bargain for alternative sentencing. This can mean the difference between keeping your employment and losing it all.
Alternative sentencing can include house arrest, community service, work furlough programs, diversion, and rehabilitation programs. All of these alternatives look better on your record, as well. A convicted felon that has never spent time in jail is seen as more trustworthy than one who has.
Maybe the crime was committed out of ignorance or coercion. On paper, your crime deserves the time. An empathetic judge may see things differently, thanks to a convincing lawyer.
5. Pre-trial Motions and Settlements
A criminal defense lawyer can help you get justice in your case without ever stepping foot into court. As a matter of fact, 90% of criminal trials are decided in pretrial. The lawyer can plea bargain a lighter settlement in exchange for a guilty plea.
There are a number of reasons why a guilty plea is in your best interest. You could be stuck in jail for months if you cannot post bail. The length of the trial itself could last months, racking up more fees along the way.
Trying to plea bargain without representation is not recommended. Prosecutors will take advantage of you. Only a criminal defense lawyer can get you the justice you deserve.
6. "Who You Know" Matters
Experience buys you time, expediency, and also favours. A criminal defense lawyer works closely with judges, prosecutors, and legal clerks. This can result in relationships that work towards your benefit. The legal system is filled with overworked personnel that work long hours.
Your lawyer can offer the opposition and the judge the gift of a lighter caseload if they cooperate. This can be very useful for criminal trials regarding small businesses. White-collar crime is not prioritized over serious crimes, such as rape or murder.
A good lawyer is going to protect you against unfair trials, erroneous filings, and other tricks to earn a conviction. The prosecution will often present fines instead of jail time as an automatic victory for more convictions. We're here to let you know that is far from the truth. The goal should always be dismissal.
7. Combing Through Evidence
When a case has a lot of evidence to sort through and verify, human error becomes a huge factor. The handling of evidence also becomes a concern for any criminal trials. Many police stations and law offices are understaffed, which can result in loss or tampering of evidence.
You need a good criminal defense team that can go through each piece of evidence filed. All evidence must follow basic procedures in order to be deemed valid in court. If any inconsistencies or fabrications are detected, this can result in a complete dismissal in your favour.
When a case goes to trial, you need to be able to ask the right questions regarding testimonies and evidence. Any holes or contradictions discovered in the prosecution can sway a verdict. Evidence must be irrefutable and incontrovertible to truly stand up in criminal court.
If you are a fervent viewer of Judge Judy, for example, you will notice that much of the evidence presented gets thrown out. This is just what happens in civil courts, the bar is even higher in criminal litigation.
Legal exceptions to evidence include:
- Former Testimony
- Statement Against Interest
- Obtained by Oppression
- Obtained Without a Warrant
- Tampering, Falsification, and Spoliation
These are just a few examples of how evidence can be tossed out. There are sets of rules that apply to Provincial and Federal law. The judge has a lot of power with regards to the dismissal of evidence if they determine that it will compromise the case's integrity.
Rules of evidence are put in place to keep jurors honest and as impartial as possible. A judge can advise a jury to discount certain evidence to retain relevance, rationality, efficiency, reliability, and overall fairness of the process.
8. Access to Professionals and Experts
An experienced lawyer has many tools at their disposal, including professional contacts that help make a convincing argument. Having a professional or expert in an industry enhances credibility. These testimonies can also provide education to the judge and jury that helps them see things differently.
Without the help of a lawyer, the cost of hiring an expert witness becomes astronomical. You may over-pay or hire someone over-qualified; a good lawyer will know what you need and how much it should cost.
The types of professionals that a defense lawyer utilizes extends to private investigators, as well. This can be vital for winning a case that is based on loose physical evidence. These contacts and decisions are often made in quick succession, giving you the best chance at building your defense.
9. Keep Your Record Clean
Your criminal record will follow you for the rest of your life. A criminal record can result in denial of employment, public housing, and various government assistance. It is very difficult to expunge a record, so your priority is prevention.
Even if hiring a criminal defense lawyer puts you into debt, it's worth saving your record. Whether you get a public victor or a quiet dismissal, the outcome is the same. If you lose a case, a lawyer can still help you by arguing for the conviction to stay off your record.
Not a lot of people realize this exception in criminal law. A criminal defense lawyer will also know needs to be done to expunge these charges. Even if your case is acquitted or dismissed, you can still have it on your record.
10. Nothing to Lose
There are no downsides to contacting a lawyer and inquiring about your case. Any reputable lawyer will offer a free telephone consultation for their services. Just having access to professional legal advice is valuable. A quick telephone call can save you a lot of stress, worrying and confusion.
They can provide insight as to just how much it will cost you to go to trial. Then, you can weigh the risks and what you'll really save by going solo. If your case is not winnable, we would not advise going to trial. Get justice fast and place faith in those working to keep your record clean.
Building Your Defense
Time is of the essence in a criminal defense case. You need to be building your case immediately upon being served your papers. Actually, hiring a criminal defense lawyer on retainer is ideal.
Do your research on who will be representing you. At Freedom Law, we are fully transparent with our services. You can read through our real testimonials and understand exactly what you will be facing. We offer extensive legal expertise across all major practices: builders liens, divorce, real estate, small business, corporate, civil, and criminal law.
Don't wait any longer, contact us today and gain peace of mind with your legal matters.