Why it’s So Important to Hire a Good Criminal Defense Lawyer … Even if You Know You’re Innocent
Almost every person gets into trouble with the law at some point. But not all brushes with the law end up with a conviction. To the many that do, the conviction becomes a blemish on the person’s criminal record, significantly affecting the person’s life.
According to statistics, approximately 100 million Americans have a criminal record, accounting for one in every three Americans. Most of these convictions could have been avoidable if the persons charged with the offenses had proper legal representation.
Right to Legal Representation
The sixth amendment guarantees criminal defendants certain rights, including the right to a fair and timely trial, impartial jury, and legal representation. Upon arrest, the police must recite the defendants’ rights, also known as Miranda rights, before conducting any interrogation.
The right to legal representation is part of the Miranda rights recital. After a defendant’s rights are read, they can choose to waive those rights and agree to interrogation without a lawyer. However, they still retain the right to stop the interrogation at any point if they feel they need a lawyer.
Once a defendant invokes their right to a lawyer, the interrogating officer cannot continue with the interrogation. If they do, any information obtained from them can not be admissible in court.
There are two options for legal representation. The first option is where the defendants hire a private lawyer. The second option is where the court appoints a public defender to represent the defendant. While the second option is better than having none, hiring one is always best.
Why It Is Important to Have a Lawyer Even When You Are Innocent
The police will rarely arrest a person unless they have probable cause. So even when you believe or feel that you were innocent, the evidence they have may be sufficient to get a conviction, and that is where a lawyer comes in.
While you could be innocent of a crime, you may not have the skills to refute the evidence presented against you by the prosecution. On the other hand, a lawyer has undergone training that helps them probe evidence for inconsistencies and flaws, which can help bring your innocence to light and avoid a conviction.
Most people may not see it necessary to hire a lawyer when faced with minor crimes such as fourth-degree crimes. In New Jersey, fourth-degree crimes include minor offenses such as property damage and shoplifting, small-scale drug offenses such as the distribution of marijuana under one ounce, and prostitution.
While these offenses may seem minor, a conviction could result in imprisonment. So if you are facing a fourth-degree crime charge, it’s best to involve a fourth-degree crime defense attorney to help you get the best possible outcome, including not going to jail. However, a lawyer doesn’t always guarantee that you get off the hook, so you may still have to face some penalties.
The American criminal justice system resolves 97 percent of its cases through plea bargains. A plea bargain involves having the defendant tackle a guilty plea for a lesser charge in exchange for the prosecution dropping the original charge.
This arrangement is usually a win-win situation where the prosecution avoids the possibility of not getting a conviction for the higher crime, and the defendant avoids getting the penalties for the higher crime.
A plea deal negotiation becomes possible when the defense has a relatively solid case, which is only achievable when you have a lawyer.
Having a lawyer by your side when facing a criminal offense charge is critical. Besides helping you with the technical bits of your legal hurdle, your lawyer can help you avoid making mistakes that can complicate your case.