The job of a criminal defense solicitor is to analyze the evidence against a client and advise on the appropriate plea and possible sentence. If a client pleads not guilty, the solicitor will represent the client at trial; testing the prosecution evidence and promoting the client’s case, and ensuring that the client has a fair trial. In cases where the client has pleaded guilty, the job is to direct the court to the appropriate sentence and highlight the good points about their client so that they receive as fair a sentence as possible.
Types of crimes that criminal defense lawyers defend in court
• Murder / Manslaughter
• Rape/ sexual offences/offences against children
• Offences against the Person, such as GBH, ABH, and common assault
• Robbery/ Burglary/ Theft /Handling Stolen Goods
• Fraud/Forgery /Proceeds of Crime
• Regulatory offences
• Drug offences
• Breaches of Court orders
• Public order offences / Offensive weapon charges
• Motoring matters
What Will A Defense Lawyer Do For You?
At the start of a criminal defense case, a criminal defense solicitor will obtain details of the allegations against you, and take your detailed instructions. That may lead to the need to gather evidence to support your case. This will include interviewing your witnesses. The solicitor will also research the statutes, cases, and procedural rules that may be useful when defending your case in court in order to prepare a defense strategy.
Building a defense strategy
When building your defense, a criminal defense solicitor will identify the strengths and weaknesses of your case and will inform you of the pros and cons of pleading guilty or not guilty, taking both the law and your individual circumstances into account.
Before a trial
Your criminal defense solicitor will then prepare your case in accordance with your defense strategy. They will analyze all the evidence both for and against you before a trial, so that cross examination of the prosecution witnesses can be planned, and a proper running order can be put into place for calling your witnesses. If there are any opportunities for applications to be made to limit the prosecution evidence, or to dismiss a case, your criminal defense solicitor will ensure that these are put into place. Your criminal defense solicitor will also be there to listen to any last-minute worries or concerns that you may have before the trial takes place. If there is any new evidence to be taken into consideration, they will make sure that this is highlighted as quickly as possible.
During a trial
Your criminal defense solicitor will be there to argue your case and to cross examine relevant witnesses. Depending on your plea, your solicitor will be working to clear you of charges, or to ensure that a fair punishment or sentence is given to you. They will do their best to make sure that a judge and jury, or bench of magistrates, put into perspective the allegation that you have been accused of, and take full account of any remorse, rehabilitation or personal circumstances that are relevant to your sentencing.
After a trial
If your trial was not successful, or if an unduly harsh sentence has been imposed, depending on the circumstances of your case, your criminal defense solicitor will advise you fully about appeals and where appropriate will begin the appeal process.
How to Obtain a Court-Appointed Defense Lawyer
If you’re facing criminal charges and are unable to afford a private defense attorney, you may qualify for a court-appointed lawyer. After all, one of the foundations of our legal system is that every criminal defendant has the right to legal representation. Some private criminal defense attorneys charge hundreds of dollars per hour, while others are more affordable. If you’re unable to pay for your own attorney, you may be eligible for a lawyer who will work at the government’s expense. The opportunity to formally request one usually comes the first time you appear in front of a judge after your arrest, known as your arraignment. When the judge calls your case, the first question will be whether you’re represented by an attorney and, if not, whether you would like one appointed to your case. If you answer that you’d like one, the judge may ask you some financial questions or require you to complete an income-and-asset questionnaire, in order to verify that you truly don’t have the funds to hire your own attorney. It’s important to provide honest answers because false information can lead to a prosecution for perjury.
Local Rules and Partial Indigency
Each state, and sometimes each county, has its own rules for determining how to qualify for court-appointed counsel. The rules often take into account the seriousness of the alleged crime. So, even if you earn a decent wage and could hire a private attorney for a short misdemeanor case, a judge may determine that you’re eligible for a court-appointed lawyer if the charges against you are serious ones that are likely to require a significant number of billable hours by your attorney. If your income is not quite high enough to bear the expense of a private attorney and not quite low enough to qualify for a free government-paid lawyer, the judge may make a determination of “partial indigency.” This means that you’re eligible for a court-appointed lawyer but must reimburse the government for a portion of your costs of representation.
Seek Free Lawyer Consultations
Some attorneys will offer free consultations usually by phone or videoconference. You aren’t likely to come away feeling like you’re ready to try your first case, but even if it’s just a 15-minute call, you may at least get enough information to have a better sense of what legal morass you’re in for. You might also be able to get some direction as to who can help you for free or a bargain basement price.
Can I Go To Small Claims Court?
Unfortunately, this isn’t a viable option for everyone. For instance, you can’t go to small claims court if you’re trying to work out your financial affairs after a divorce. But if the stakes are fairly low where someone owes you money or is trying to collect money from you, and it isn’t worth risking lawyer fees, you might consider small claims court. Your home state will dictate how high the stakes are.
Identify Your Legal Problem and Use a Specialist
The first step in the process of finding an attorney is to understand the problem or issue facing you. The law has many different specialties and sub-specialties, and before you can accurately determine the best attorney to represent you, you need to determine what kind of lawyer is best suited to address and resolve your problem. During this initial phase, consult your general corporate lawyer or another trusted business advisor such as your accountant. Select a specialist to help you solve your problem. Lawyers today are as specialized as doctors. You would not ask your internist to perform open heart surgery. Likewise, you should not ask your general corporate lawyer to handle a wage and hour audit or an OSHA inspection. A specialist will know the latest developments and legal nuances applicable to your problem without charging you extra to be on the “cutting edge.” This up-to-the-minute knowledge is essential since it could be the marginal difference in winning or losing your case.
Make Sure the Attorney has the Right Experience
The appropriate level of experience is one of the most critical criteria in selecting a lawyer. You want a lawyer with a track record of success with your type of problem. Such a record of experience will increase the likelihood that the attorney can help to resolve your problem successfully. Obviously, length of service, number of cases in a particular specialty and geographic area and prior results are important matters to consider in evaluating the attorney’s “experience.” Along with experience comes knowledge of the adversaries and personalities involved in a case cumulative wisdom and perspective to evaluate risks and develop winning strategies related to a particular problem and confidence to steer you through the twists and turns of the legal process. Viewing the law firm’s website will also give you insight into the scope of the firm’s practice. Explore the website of each firm on your “short list” and Google the firm and individual attorneys.
Expect the Attorney to be a Good Communicator
Attorneys are paid to communicate with their adversaries and those sitting in judgment of their cases. Equally important however, is finding an attorney who can effectively communicate with you. You want an attorney who anticipates your questions and keeps you abreast of the developments in your case without you having to call first. The attorney should have the ability to communicate in an organized and understandable manner. The attorney should have a good “bedside manner” and have good judgment as to when in-person communications or e-mail is most appropriate. The attorney should also realize that over-communicating may be unnecessary and not cost-effective. When you are asked to make a decision or to act, the attorney needs to explain succinctly the options available to you, the practical and legal advantages and disadvantages of the different courses of actions and other matters relevant to your decision.
Consider the Attorney’s Professionalism
“Professionalism” is more than personality. It involves certain objective actions and behaviors that distinguish the best attorneys from those who are merely competent. “Professionalism” is more than personality. It involves certain objective actions and behaviors that distinguish the best attorneys from those who are merely competent. Among other things, you should expect a “professional” attorney to:
• Work zealously to protect your best interests
• Work efficiently and economically, using your resources as his own
• Return all telephone calls or client communications promptly
• Arrive at meetings on time and well-prepared
• Follow-up promptly and as appropriate
• Provide you with advice about alternative dispute resolution procedures
• Be respectful of everyone, regardless of their position, role or status
• Be neat and project the image of success appropriate for your business
• Behave appropriately in all situations
• Follow all applicable laws and ethical canons
• Not do anything that would create the appearance of impropriety
• The attorney should display a tireless passion to protect your interests. The best attorneys take ownership in your problem and devote themselves to finding winning solutions.
Reasons to Hire a Utah Attorney
Trusting your case to a local attorney has many advantages. Being convenient in travelling and communication terms, local attorneys also have familiarity with local court system and may have developed strong connections with local community. The key reasons of hiring a local attorney include:
• Being familiar with local and state laws: Each state is allowed to create, implement and enforce its own laws in additional to federal laws. When choosing an attorney, one of the most important things to consider is his/her deep knowledge of not only federal but also local or state laws. Local attorneys are more aware of every detail of the state law and thus, will know what button to push for each specific case.
• Knowing local court proceedings: Similar to states, each court has its own rules of practice. Some laws are more faithfully adhered to by one court and lesser applied by another one. A local attorney will most likely have previous experience with local courts which will endow him/her with the privilege of understanding the rules of the local court better than any visiting attorney. Besides, a local attorney can be a lot more familiar with filing deadlines and hours of operation of local courts.
• Having good connections: Local attorneys attend local mixers, conferences and social events which give them a chance to develop a rapport with other local judges and attorneys. They will also have good contacts with local police, prosecutors, expert witnesses, which can be effectively used to resolve the case in your favor. A local attorney will know the preferences of each judge as well, thus can decide what evidence will be more acceptable for the very judge.
• Valuing good reputation in the community: Creating and maintaining solid reputation will provide long-term trust and respect for a lawyer in the community. That is why local attorneys will do their best to maintain good reputation in their local court. Otherwise, this is rarely true for non-local attorneys, who may never appear in the court again.
• Skipping some out-of-pocket expenses: When you hire a non-local attorney, note that the travelling costs will be charged to you. That can include travelling tickets, hotel costs, and meals. While, hiring a local attorney you will not have to incur that expense.
Utah Defense Lawyers
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
Telephone: (801) 676-5506