Most people don't expect to be in a situation where they need criminal legal defense.
Unfortunately, being arrested and charged with a misdemeanor or felony crime is something that can happen to anyone. For this reason, it's always a good idea to be well informed of your legal rights, especially when it comes to being detained, questioned, and/or arrested.
If you do end up being charged with a crime, retaining an experienced and hard-working criminal defense lawyer can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. In the meantime, our legal team has put together some answers to several of the most common questions we're asked about criminal defense.
First of all, understand your rights when it comes to being questioned by police. In most cases, you are not required to provide a police officer with any information aside from proof of your identity. This may include verbally providing the officer with your name and date of birth or giving the officer your driver's license (or other approved identification). You are not legally bound to answer any additional questions, nor should you. The last thing you want to do is to incriminate yourself, as anything you say can and likely will be used against you in court.
If you're arrested and questioned by law enforcement, the best thing you can do for yourself is to inform the officer(s) that you don't intend to answer any questions and that you would like to speak with your lawyer.
There are many ways in which having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side can benefit you. A criminal defense attorney will have the experience needed to determine potential defenses for your specific charges or possibly even find a way to have your charges dropped. Further, a criminal defense lawyer will be able to look at the facts of your case objectively and provide you with the legal guidance you need to move forward. In some cases, your attorney may even be able to get your case settled out of court so you don't need to go in front of a judge or jury.
If you qualify for a public defender, you can retain legal counsel at no charge to you. However, your attorney will be appointed by the court and you will, unfortunately, have no way of knowing how much experience he/she has with your specific type of case. Public defenders also tend to be very over-worked, so it's possible that your case may not be given the priority it deserves (and would otherwise receive with an experienced private criminal defense lawyer).
The defense that your attorney may recommend will vary greatly depending on the specific charges you're facing, as well as the unique circumstances surrounding your case. Your past criminal record (where applicable) may also come into play here, as some criminal charges (like drug charges or DUIs) are handled differently by the court system if you are a repeat offender. A reputable and experienced criminal defense attorney will also consider evidence from your case (including witness statements, where applicable) to determine the best line of defense for your charge.
Even if you're planning on pleading guilty to the charges, it's a good idea to at least consult with a criminal defense attorney before you make that final decision. If you do plead guilty, a lawyer may be able to work with the prosecutors ahead of time to negotiate a plea bargain so that you can enjoy a reduced sentence compared to what you might face if you plead guilty without legal representation.
The costs associated with retaining a criminal defense lawyer can vary greatly, depending on the complexity of your case and many other factors, such as your attorney's level of experience and the expected length of your case. It's also worth noting that attorneys charge in different ways; some may charge a flat rate for taking on your case, whereas others may bill by the hour or offer a payment plan.
If you're facing criminal charges, the attorneys at Leventis Law Firm are here to represent you in Columbia, South Carolina, and the surrounding areas. Give the office a call today to schedule your free case assessment and find out more about what he can offer you.