If you’re wondering what does criminal defense mean, it can be both a simple and complicated question. Criminal defense is the area of law related to the defense of those accused of wrongdoing as defined by the State of Minnesota criminal code. For those individuals charged with a crime, a defense attorney is what stands between them and the serious consequences of a conviction.
The role of a criminal defense attorney is substantial. Your legal counsel is central to every phase of your case from seeking bail to pursuing an acquittal at trial. While you are entitled to an attorney during a criminal prosecution, your choice of legal counsel is still crucial. Contact the attorneys of Gerald Miller to learn more.
What a Defense Attorney Does
Criminal defense attorneys wear many hats. In the early stages of a criminal case, these attorneys will primarily focus on investigating the charges. This effort often begins with a police report, but it can also involve interviews with witnesses or a careful evaluation of physical evidence.
Defense attorneys also frequently negotiate on their client’s behalf. In cases where the defense is strong or the arrest was unlawful, an attorney could push for the dismissal of all charges. Other negotiations could result in the reduction of charges or even a favorable plea bargain.
Preparing for trial is one of the most important jobs of the criminal defense attorney. This could involve identifying and hiring expert witnesses to help prove your case. It also requires a comprehensive trial strategy, including helping you decide if it is in your best interest to testify.
If you are ultimately convicted, your attorney’s work is not done. Sentencing is an equally important aspect of every criminal trial. In many cases, the sentencing phase is where the real battle begins. Even following a conviction, the hard work of your attorney could lead to reduced sentence.
Private vs. Public Defense
Your rights under the Constitution of the United States entitle you to an attorney in most criminal cases. If you are facing the risk of incarceration—no matter how unlikely—you have the right to a court-appointed attorney if you cannot afford your own legal counsel. However, many public defenders are overwhelmed by their caseload and unable to provide you with the guidance you deserve.
For that reason, hiring a private defense lawyer is often in your best interest. Your private attorney will have the resources needed to fully dedicate themselves to your case. This can great improve your chances of a favorable outcome at trial.
Many private attorneys were once public defenders or prosecutors. It is not uncommon for these public servants to eventually enter private life and pursue a career on their own. This means many private defense attorneys have a wealth of experience they can rely on. Even attorneys who have spent their entire career with private firms can offer the skill and experience you deserve. Every attorney is different, which makes it important for you to weigh your options carefully when selecting legal counsel.
Although you are entitled to an attorney, most judges will allow a defendant to represent themselves during the course of a criminal prosecution. It might surprise you to know that a defendant is not entitled to serve as their own attorney. If the court determines it is not in the best interest of justice for a person to represent themselves, they may require them to use a court-appointed attorney. In some cases, the court may appoint an attorney to advise the defendant while they represent themselves.
There are serious risks associated with representing yourself. Taking on the challenges of a criminal trial on your own will put you at a disadvantage compared to an experienced prosecutor. In some instances, a simple mistake could be the difference between an acquittal and a conviction.
Talk to a Defense Attorney
If you are unsure of how a defense attorney could benefit your case, the good news is that you could ask them directly, What does criminal defense mean? Most criminal defense attorneys offer a free consultation and can review your arrest with you in person. As a cornerstone of the justice system, a defense attorney can help ensure your rights are protected and you are given your opportunity to be heard. To discuss your defense options going forward, contact the attorneys of Gerald Miller as soon as possible.