Being faced with criminal prosecution is often a scary and confusing ordeal, so if you are being charged with a crime – from a minor offense to something more serious – it is imperative that you not compound your mistake by not hiring a strong criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case.
While there are many lawyers out there who claim to be good at what they do, it is very important to be choosy when hiring someone to represent you. Just like you wouldn’t hire an electrician to fix your plumbling, you shouldn’t hire a lawyer without the background and ability to handle your defense. For example, if you are facing a DUI charge, your ideal lawyer will have a proven track record in handling DUI cases, as well as extensive knowledge about field sobriety testing and Utah’s DUI laws.
Most attorneys will offer an initial consultation free of charge, during which he or she will be able to explain in detail the charges that you are facing, the strengths and weaknesses of your case and any possible defenses, what kind of “deal” the prosecution may be willing to offer you, and what to expect when you go to court. You will also learn about the fee you will likely be charged for the representation, and while hiring a lawyer is never cheap, you must consider the big picture. Especially in cases where jail time is a possibility, it is hard to put a price on your freedom and on the consequences you may face if you end up going to jail, such as being away from your family and likely losing your job. Your reputation is also priceless, because a criminal conviction may affect things such as your ability to secure employment in the future, as many employers these days conduct background checks on prospective new employees. In any instance, there is a reason lawyers go through years of rigorous schooling and testing in order to practice law – the law is expansive and ever-changing, and having an attorney to help navigate the complex justice system will prove invaluable in the long run.
It is also important to know your rights as a criminal defendant during all stages of the proceedings, and a good criminal defense attorney will be able to explain these rights to you so as to eliminate any possible missteps you may make without proper representation.
Another advantage to having a good criminal defense attorney is that he or she will likely have established professional relationships with the judge and prosecutor assigned to your case, and thus will be able to act as a strong negotiator on your behalf. During the pre-trial phases of your case, your lawyer may be able to get your charge reduced to a lesser offense, lessen the severity of the punishment you may face, and/or reduct or eliminate possible jail time. All of this is part of the development of a sound defense strategy, something you will not be able to accomplish without a strong legal team on your side.
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