Criminal Defense Attorney West Valley City Utah
If you have been charged with a crime, whether a misdemeanor or a felony, it is very important that you work with a criminal defense attorney in West Valley City Utah throughout the entire process. Whether or not you think that the situation is serious, there may be a lot more at risk than is immediately apparent, and you could find yourself looking back on this case year from now wishing that you had taken some different steps.
When hiring a defense lawyer, it is important to find the right one to handle your specific case. However, many wonder what a defense lawyer generally does for their clients. First of all, before choosing a lawyer, it is important to make sure they are licensed to practice law in that specific state. Most lawyers specialize in a certain area of law and it is best to choose one that specializes in the practice area in which you require defense. When an attorney has specialized in a specific area of law for the majority of their time in practice, this typically signifies that they have a lot of experience relating to that subject. Their job is to represent their clients in court proceedings and they are supposed to do what they possibly can to get their clients the best outcome. It may not always work in their client’s favor, but attorneys are bound by a code of ethics under licensing laws and must provide their clients with fair and honest representation that works in the best interest of their clients.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Accepting a Plea Bargain
The prosecutor and the judge may prefer to dispose of cases through a plea bargain because doing so helps to manage caseloads and reduce the number of cases that require a full trial. This helps to decrease the expense that the state will pay for this portion of the criminal justice system. Criminal defendants may gain certain advantages by accepting a plea bargain. However, they must also be aware of the disadvantages.
• Lighter Sentence: Many criminal defendants accept a plea bargain agreement because the prosecutor offers a lighter sentence for a crime. This may result in significantly less time behind bars in the event that the individual was convicted of the crime after a full trial.
• Reduced Charge: A criminal defendant may receive a reduced charge in exchange for accepting the plea deal. In some cases, this may result in the defendant pleading guilty to a misdemeanor instead of a felony. In other cases, the defendant may plead to a crime of a different class or degree. This reduced charge may result in different consequences. For example, a person may be eligible for certain jobs or to have their criminal record expunged under certain convictions than others.
• Cost Savings: Criminal defendants who hire a private attorney will likely have to pay much more to have an attorney represent them through the entire trial. Accepting a plea agreement can help a criminal defendant dispose of the case more quickly to avoid the time and expense of a trial.
• The Case Is Over: After you accept a plea agreement and appear before the court to plead, your case is virtually over. If you have been in jail because you were unable to bond out, you may be released if you have no jail time to serve or have a suspended sentence. It also helps remove the uncertainty of going to trial and not knowing what the outcome will be. This allows you to deal with the consequences now, rather than worry about them while your case is still pending.
Before accepting a plea agreement, a criminal defendant should discuss the disadvantages of this decision with a criminal defense lawyer. Here are a few such potential disadvantages:
• Avoiding Problems with Prosecution’s Case: Sometimes when a prosecutor offers a plea agreement, it is because he or she realizes that there are certain problems with the state’s case. For example, there may not be credible witnesses, forensic evidence may not be convincing or the defendant may appear sympathetic. By accepting a plea agreement, you may be accepting a conviction that the prosecution may not have been able to otherwise acquire based on its own case.
• No “Not Guilty” Result: When a criminal defendant hears “not guilty,” he or she may feel a sense of vindication. In most cases, when a criminal defendant accepts a plea agreement, he or she agrees to plead guilty of a crime. In some cases the individual makes this decision because he or she was actually guilty of the crime, but in other cases, the individual makes the decision because he or she fears being found guilty and the likely consequences of that conviction. Once an individual pleads guilty, he or she cannot later go back and tell employers or others that he or she didn’t commit the crime because the conviction says otherwise.
• Possibility of Coercion: Even if a criminal defendant has legal representation, he or she may feel tremendous pressure to accept a plea agreement. The prosecution may emphasize the maximum punishment possible. In such a manner, the prosecution may make innocent individuals accept a plea bargain.
• Non-Binding on Court: Even if you reach an agreement with the prosecutor, the court is not bound to accept this agreement. The court must approve any such agreement. It will ask you whether you understand the terms of the agreement, the charges, and your waiver of certain rights and the consequences of a plea agreement.
Alibi Defense in West Valley City, Utah
An alibi defense is a defense based on information that a defendant was not at the scene of the crime when the crime occurred, that he was somewhere else and could not be the person who committed the crime. The defense can have witnesses testify and present evidence at trial to support an alibi defense. If an alibi defense is based on witness testimony, the credibility of the witness can strengthen or weaken the defense dramatically. The jury or the judge deciding whether the defendant is guilty needs to believe and trust the witness who is testifying that the defendant was not at the scene of the crime.
The defendant’s friends and family members can testify about an alibi but the jury or judge may wonder if these people would lie for the defendant or not want to believe that he could be a criminal. If Bill (the accused drug dealer) was home with his girlfriend, visiting his mother, or out drinking with his friends, these witnesses can testify but there always is a concern that the jury might question their credibility because they are friends or family. This could weaken the alibi defense although it does not mean the defense should abandon it. A witness who does not know or is not close to the defendant can strengthen an alibi defense. If the waitress at the restaurant had never met Sally before that night, the jury probably will see her as having no reason to lie for Sally and rely on her testimony more comfortably.
Testimony from more than one person about a defendant’s alibi also can strengthen an alibi defense. If three co-workers who have known Bill for different lengths of time can testify that he was at the construction site, the defense is stronger than one based on testimony from only one co-worker.
Video footage, photos, swipe card records, and phone or GPS records can be the strongest alibi evidence, because this evidence usually does not depend on a witness being reliable or believable. We tend to think that this type of evidence is more objective – that, for instance, “the camera doesn’t lie.” However, having this evidence does not automatically mean the prosecutor will dismiss the charges or the defendant will be found not guilty at trial. The prosecutor may question the accuracy of records or the date stamp on a video and try to present evidence or argue that the alibi is not airtight.
The fact that a defendant presents an alibi defense does not change the requirement that the prosecutor prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense also does not have to provide the alibi beyond a reasonable doubt. If the jury or judge does not believe the alibi defense, the prosecution still must prove all elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In addition to proving that the defendant was at the scene of the crime, the evidence in the case must prove all other elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant actually committed a criminal act. If the jury is not convinced of Bill’s alibi, the jury cannot and is not required to stop there and convict Bill. The jury still must consider whether the prosecution has proved that Bill had illegal drugs in his possession and that he exchanged the drugs with the minors for money.
How to Raise an Alibi Defense
Most states require that a defendant inform the prosecution before trial of an alibi defense within a certain time period. If the defense ignores this requirement, the defendant may not be allowed to present the defense at trial. In any criminal trial proceeding, the defense must provide the prosecution with a list of witnesses who may testify at trial and a list of or copies of physical evidence the defense may present. The prosecution is entitled to interview the defense witnesses before trial and inspect the physical evidence if a copy cannot be provided. If the defendant has an alibi, he usually must give the prosecutor separate, additional notice of the defense, explaining where he was at the time of the crime and what witnesses or evidence he will present to support the alibi. If you are charged with a crime and believe you have an alibi, contact an attorney in West Valley City, Utah immediately. An attorney can investigate this potential defense and help you comply with any procedural requirements or deadlines for alibis in the court where you case was filed.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Pro Se Representation in a Criminal Matter
After being charged with a crime, a defendant will have several court proceedings they need to participate in to resolve the matter. The first thing a defendant should determine is their court representation strategy. Will they hire a private attorney, ask for a public defender, or represent themselves? If a criminal defendant chooses to represent themselves in court, this is referred to a pro se representation. Instead of relying on a lawyer for representation and legal advice, a pro se defendant researches and argues their own case in front of the judge and the jury.
However, most lawyers and judges would agree that pro se representation is not always the best decision for a defendant facing criminal charges. This is because most people lack the skill and experience to put up the best defense. Many times when a defendant has self-representation, they will be convicted when a lawyer could help them get a not guilty verdict or a better deal. On the other hand, the right to pro se representation is guaranteed by the West Valley Constitution. So, if the defendant chooses to represent themselves in a criminal trial, the court must honor that decision.
If a defendant chooses to represent themselves, they will need to take the following steps:
• Tell the court that they wish to proceed with pro se representation;
• Establish competency to stand trial (criminal defendants that lack competency cannot represent themselves pro se);
• File the appropriate court paperwork; and
• Meet all court deadlines and case requirements.
Keep in mind that these requirements may vary between states and particular courts. Additionally, some judges may allow or require a pro se defendant to work with a “standby attorney”. This provides a pro se defendant with a lawyer who is there to help if they need one to step in during a proceeding to help with procedure or arguments. Many judges prefer this type of representation because it allows a defendant to assert their right to be pro se while still having traditional representation available if things get out of hand.
Advantages of Pro Se Representation
While the disadvantages to pro se representation carry more weight in most instances, there may be some advantages depending on the defendant’s situation. These may include:
• Familiarity: The majority of criminal defendants who choose to go pro se base their decision on a lack of trust in the judicial system. The defendants may believe that they know their cases best and are therefore in the best position to provide the greatest defense;
• Lower costs: Another common reason a defendant might choose pro se representation is the cost involved in hiring an attorney. If the defendant does not want the pro bono attorney, they will have to spare significant expense to hire a private attorney. However, even though pro se representation saves money it also provides a lesser chance of winning the case in most instances;
• Strategy Decisions: Having pro se representation means that the defendant solely calls the shots in their defense. This eliminates strategy disagreements between an attorney and client and the defendant feeling pressured to proceed with their case in a certain way. However, pro se defendants will still need to learn and follow the court’s rules; and
• Legal Experience: If the defendant is an attorney or has work experience in a legal setting, they may already be familiar with the judicial system and equipped with the tools needed to effectively argue their case.
Disadvantages of Pro Se Representation
Overall, pro se defendants have a lesser chance of winning their case than if they were represented by an attorney. Before making a representation decision, criminal defendants should consider the following disadvantages of proceeding in a pro se fashion:
• Lack of Training and Knowledge: Perhaps the greatest disadvantage of pro se representation is that most defendants are not adequately trained in the law to represent themselves. Most criminal defendants have not gone to law school or received any legal training. As such, they will lack the knowledge of how to argue a case and be unfamiliar with common criminal procedure requirements that courts impose;
• Inferior Argument Skills: Although a defendant might have some knowledge of the law, knowledge alone is not enough to win a case and persuade the judge or jury that they are not guilty. Again, the average person will usually find it difficult to argue if they lack training in communication and argumentation skills. Language barriers can further complicate these situations;
• Bias: Pro se defendants will generally have inherent bias because they cannot look at the case from the other party’s position. On the other hand, lawyers are trained to think this way in order to determine the best case strategy and arguments. Even defendants who are attorneys or have legal experience may have trouble getting rid of their bias when they are representing themselves; and
• Delays: Since many pro se defendants are unfamiliar with court/case rules and procedures, this may cause delays with case resolution. It can also result in sanctions against the defendant.
Criminal Defense Lawyers
Attorneys that specialize in criminal defense are often self-employed or work for private firms, but can also work for organizations and government agencies. Once a lawyer is hired and retained, they will gather all pertinent details regarding your case and will work on building a strong defense strategy. Their defense strategy should challenge every aspect of the prosecution’s case in order to do what they can to get their client the best final outcome possible under the circumstances, which obviously vary from case to case. There are many different types of cases that criminal defense lawyers can take on such as assault charges, theft and fraud charges, white collar crimes defense, and DUIs.
Civil Litigation Defense Lawyers
Civil defense lawyers often work on cases where they defend people listed in a lawsuit. In these types of cases, their clients are being taken to court and sued for a sum of money. The lawyer’s job is in these types of cases is to try and prove that their clients were not liable for the claimed damages. This area of defense covers many different types of cases. For example, divorce law, personal injury law, and mass torts.
Public Defense Lawyers
Lawyers working as public defenders usually work for government agencies and can be specifically appointed to one office like for a county defender’s office. They are retained by these agencies to provide those who cannot afford legal counsel, the right to legal counsel and defense.
Juvenile Defense Lawyers
Juvenile defense lawyers defend people aged between 10 and 17 since they cannot be tried as adults, even if the crimes committed are the same as adult crimes. Sentences and penalties are much different for juveniles and this area of defense law is quite unique because in most cases, defense lawyers who specialize in this area of law are tasked with trying to find rehabilitative solutions for their young clients and hopefully help them avoid incarceration. Defending yourself against a criminal charge is no easy matter. You must understand the elements of the crime that you have been charged with and see what defenses you may have against the various elements. You do not need to defend against all of the elements, as it only takes a reasonable doubt by the jury for one of them. Every case is different, but here are a few of the most common defenses to a criminal charge.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?
As noted above, the costs of criminal defense lawyers vary, as no criminal case is identical to another. There are several factors that can affect the overall costs of a criminal case, including:
• Defendant’s Income: Your income determines whether you are eligible for a court-appointed attorney, or whether you need to hire your own attorney. Each jurisdiction may have different qualifications to determine if someone can afford to hire their own attorney. If an individual qualifies based on their income, then the court will appoint a public defender paid for by the government, as guaranteed by the Constitution;
• Investigation and Experts: As mentioned above, many criminal cases have complex issues that can require investigators and/or expert witnesses. For example, a defense attorney might hire an expert in chemical testing to contest or explain the results of a BAC analysis in a DUI trial, or a psychologist if the defendant wants to claim the defense of legal insanity. Investigators and experts require on average a retainer of $2,000 and can charge over $300/hr. Thus, based on the particular circumstances of your criminal charges, there may be extra fees needed to form a stronger defense; or
• Attorney’s Fees: As mentioned above, criminal defense attorneys do not all cost a fixed amount of money. Attorney’s fees will vary according to several factors. Some of the more important factors affecting an attorney’s rate include: The skill of the attorney; the experience of the attorney; the seriousness of the offense; the complexity of the legal issues in the case; the amount of time spent by the attorney in the criminal discovery process; The delegation of tasks to law clerks or paralegals; Whether the case goes to trial; and Whether the attorney charges a flat fee or by the hour.
Call Ascent Law Now
If you have been charged with a criminal offense, it’s a great idea to hire West Valley City Utah criminal defense lawyers. These lawyers have enough skills and experience in dealing with criminal cases. This helps them enhance their reputation because they work to satisfy your expectations.
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It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
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