By: Michael A Russo
Often, people will decide to represent themselves in court when they have been charged with a crime. Sadly, the outcome is often bad for them. Hiring a criminal lawyer is important when charged with a crime and facing a tough prosecutor. A good attorney will provide a strong defense for the accused. With so much on the line, taking your chances without an experienced and articulate criminal defense lawyer by your side is a losing bet.
On the first day, the lawyer will evaluate the evidence and charges to be sure the defendant understands them. The explanation will include what to expect, an overview of the judge and prosecutor’s record, evidence, and anything else pertinent to the case. An individual who has not participated in the legal system for years cannot provide the level of experience a criminal defense lawyer can.
When evidence is collected in a case, there are certain procedures that must be followed. While the evidence itself may be very damaging, an experienced lawyer is able to see holes and procedural missteps that could eliminate the most damaging portions. Anticipating the judge’s decision on these issues comes from years of working with them and understanding their pattern in making rulings on what stands and what does not.
The actual court filings and legal proceedings can be very difficult to comprehend. The purpose for each hearing is different. A good criminal lawyer can use their expertise to advocate on the defendant’s behalf with depositions and the cross-examination of witnesses. Also, there are reasons to eliminate members of the jury pool that may go beyond outsiders understanding.
The established relationship with judges and prosecutors gives the criminal lawyer an advantage throughout the process. Often, the professional courtesy that exists between prosecutors and defense attorneys is not extended to an individual that is representing himself or herself. The ability to plea the charges down before the first day of court is something that comes from these relationships. Phone calls back and forth between the lawyer’s offices as they negotiate the situation are a matter of professional courtesy. A defendant may be re-arrested when different charges are filed, and an attorney can simply ask that they appear voluntarily. The trust that they have built within the system is not easily extended to those outside the legal system.
When a lawyer offers advice on a case, they are taking many things into consideration that may not appear on the surface to the general observer. Knowing what a jury will decide, how a judge will rule, and how the evidence can be used is a result of the experience of a good lawyer. When the case seems to be lost, a good criminal lawyer can negotiate a plea agreement that would never be considered coming from a self represented individual.
The stress and anxiety a defendant will endure can be overwhelming, especially when faced with a tough prison sentence. The retained professional is able to worry about protecting a defendant’s rights, while still providing comfort and support to the individual that is overwhelmed. Without this support, many mistakes can be made.
Even though every person is entitled to represent himself or herself in a court of law, the best choice is to find a professional criminal lawyer to receive sound advice. By having experience within the legal system, the lawyer provides more than static legal advice. They also provide the professional relationships that they have spent time in their career building. All of these factors give them a clear advantage as they provide the best defense possible.