Do I Need a Criminal Defense Attorney?

Ten Ways a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You

You have the legal right to represent yourself in a criminal proceeding, but it’s rarely wise to do so.
Updated: 2020-08-13
How to Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer in

If you are charged with a crime, you should have a criminal defense lawyer on your side. While you have the legal right to represent yourself in a criminal proceeding, it’s rarely wise to do so.

Without precise knowledge of the local legal landscape, you could end up facing more severe penalties than you otherwise would.

What Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Do?


Among other things, a good criminal defense attorney can:

  1. Analyze your case, identifying its strengths and potential problems.
  2. Argue that the court should drop charges against you.
  3. Persuade the court to reduce or eliminate bail.
  4. File court paperwork accurately and on time.
  5. Gather and evaluate evidence, and hire investigators or expert witnesses that can help your case.
  6. Attempt to reduce charges or penalties by negotiating a plea bargain.
  7. Help you evaluate the pros and cons of pleading guilty.
  8. Figure out what defense strategy will serve you best.
  9. Negotiate the most favorable sentence for you.
  10. Help you stay calm and manage difficult emotions that arise during your case.

Find a Good Criminal Defense Lawyer

Like tax law, family law, or bankruptcy law, criminal defense law is a specialty. Within the field of criminal injury law, lawyers often specialize in defending people accused of certain types of crimes, for example, DUI, assault, white-collar crimes, or sexual offenses.

Someone claiming to be a criminal defense lawyer should be able to point to experience and deep knowledge of the specialized area of criminal law, including applicable state or federal laws and the common practices of your local court system.

For an experienced lawyer, many aspects of criminal cases are routine. The lawyer you choose should be able to advise you on the best way to proceed with your case given the circumstances of your situation and outcomes of similar cases in your location.

If you're going to hire a criminal defense lawyer, make sure you get a good one. Do your homework and comparison shop before you hire someone to represent you.



Jurisdictional relevance: There are versions of this article for each State.
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