How A Criminal Attorney Can Help
Criminal lawyers are a special breed of attorney. Their job is to ensure that their clients receive all that is available to them under the law after they have been arrested for criminal offenses.
Criminal violations could include the following:
hit and run
selling a controlled substance
A criminal attorney will first try to have the charges lowered. He or she will also investigate and often challenge the lab work, arresting procedure and other aspects of the arrest.
The client enters a plea at the arraignment hearing. If a defendant cannot afford to hire a criminal defense attorney, the Court will appoint an attorney from the Public Defender’s Office to serve as that person’s criminal attorney. Public defenders are often young and inexperienced in going up against lawyers from the District Attorney’s Office. For this reason, it is always a good idea to retain a criminal attorney.
After the arraignment or even at the arraignment, the defendant’s criminal attorney may file a Motion to Dismiss the Case for lack of evidence, improper arrest procedure or for some other valid cause. If the case is dismissed, the client is free and will not have a conviction on his or her criminal record.
At the pre-trial conference, the judge surveys both attorneys to see if they are ready to proceed to trial. If they are not, the judge will admonish them to prepare their case as quickly as possible. If the case is ready to go forward, it will them proceed to the assigned trial date where both sides will present their case. Some trials are before a judge and jury while others are held before a judge only.
Plea bargaining negotiations begin practically from the beginning of the case. These are normally not held at court but, rather, between attorneys while at the local restaurant across from the courthouse. If the case is settled prior to trial and if the judge approves the settlement, the trial date will be vacated. However, if the case does not settle, the trial will begin.
Some cases settle at the time of trial, but the more serious cases like grand larceny, burglary and murder are usually sentenced a week or two after the trial. For a sentence, a defendant may be required to serve time in the county jail or in state prison, pay victim restitution, participate in drug treatment, testify before a victim’s group and/or engage in community service. First offenses are often sentenced to summary probation only. However, if probation if violated in any way, the defendant will then have to serve time in lock-up. A criminal attorney can assist in helping a client receive a lower sentence.