What is a Criminal Defense Attorney and When Do You Need One?
If you’ve been accused of a crime, you have the right to have an attorney represent you and defend you before a court of law. In such situations, an attorney with experience in criminal law can represent you and work to ensure your rights are preserved. These attorneys are called “criminal defense attorneys.”
Criminal defense is an area of law involving the representation of individuals who are facing criminal charges. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, the court will appoint one for you at your request.
Whether you choose a court-appointed attorney or decide to hire your own, the important thing is to have a criminal defense attorney by your side to help you navigate the criminal justice system and represent you throughout the process.
You significantly increase the odds of a successful resolution by having an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your corner.
What Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Do?
Criminal defense attorneys manage a number of responsibilities during the course of representing you, both inside and outside the courtroom.
The Columbus criminal defense attorneys at Koenig & Owen, take those responsibilities seriously.
When you hire our criminal defense lawyers, this is what you can expect:
We sit down with you to understand exactly what happened from your perspective. Your side of the story is important to us. We’ll ask you detailed questions so we can make sure we have all the information we need to begin strategizing for your defense.
We review police records and medical documents, as well as camera and video footage, to supplement the information we get from you. We also talk to witnesses who were at the scene or who may have input that would be valuable in building your defense.
If your defense would be bolstered by expert opinion, we seek out top specialists to testify on your behalf. These experts may include psychologists, criminologists, and specialists in DNA evidence, hair analysis, and fingerprints.
We represent you in and out of the courtroom, which includes plea negotiations with the prosecution. We work to get your charges dropped or reduced. While we handle the negotiations, the final decision on whether you take the prosecution’s deal is yours to make. We’ll counsel you and help you make the tough choices.
In the event the prosecution does not offer a fair plea deal, we fight on your behalf in the courtroom. We handle jury selection and do everything possible to impanel a jury that will be more likely to decide in your favor.
If the decision does not go your way in court, we make a case for you to serve a reduced prison sentence or avoid prison time altogether.
These are all things a strong criminal defense attorney should do. Unfortunately, not all of them are competent and diligent in providing the kind of service you deserve. This is why it is so important to do your research and seek out an attorney who is experienced, ethical, and professional.
When Do I Need a Criminal Defense Attorney?
Your right to an attorney begins as soon as any form of judicial action is being initiated against you for a crime that carries a possible prison sentence. This includes proceedings such as arraignments, hearings, and indictments.
Defendants sometimes make the mistake of assuming that, if they are innocent, they do not need a criminal defense attorney. This could not be further from the truth. If you are facing a criminal charge, whether you committed the crime or not, you need a criminal defense attorney.
It is in your best to hire an attorney as soon as possible after being arrested for a crime. It is possible that a good criminal defense attorney could intervene before any formal charges are brought against you. An attorney can advise you during questioning by the police so you do not inadvertently incriminate yourself and say something that can be used against you.
How Do I Select the Right Criminal Defense Attorney?
Choosing the right criminal defense attorney is an essential step in securing a successful outcome in your case. It can be stressful and confusing to navigate through the many criminal defense attorneys available in your area.
Although it does take some effort, who you hire to represent you can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.
Take the factors below into account when you seek out the right criminal defense attorney for you:
- Thoroughly research all criminal defense attorneys in and around your area. Read through current and previous client reviews, ratings, and complaints. Check with the Ohio State Bar Association to learn about any disciplinary proceedings against the attorney.
- Compare several high-rated attorneys from your search. Which attorneys are best suited to deal with your case? Make sure that you choose an attorney who is highly experienced in the specific crime with which you have been charged, such as sexual assault, theft, homicide, or domestic violence.
- After narrowing down your options, interview the candidates. Ask them to meet with you in person. If they are invested in their cases and clients, this request should not be an issue. Meeting in person is important because you need to choose an attorney you feel comfortable speaking with openly and honestly.
- Choose an attorney in the same jurisdiction in which you are facing charges. Negotiations with judges and prosecutors often go much more smoothly if the attorney is familiar with the local network and court system. An attorney who may have worked with the prosecution on previous cases is more likely to be able to get charges dropped.
- Make sure the attorney you are considering has the capacity to take on your case immediately. It takes time to build a strong defense, and the sooner your attorney can get started, the more likely you are to have time to weigh all of your options and lay out the most effective strategy.
Can I Change Attorneys If I am Not Satisfied?
If you have a court-appointed attorney, you must have the court’s approval to change attorneys. Typically, courts are reluctant to allow that unless there is a serious problem. If you have hired a private attorney, however, you can change your mind and hire a new one at any time. Remember you are still responsible for paying for the time the attorney spent on your case.
One potential obstacle to changing private attorneys is that the prosecution may object if it could have an impact on the scheduling and progress of the case. If the prosecution makes that argument, the court may not allow you to make a change.