What Every Client Should Know About Criminal Law
Looking at the details of a criminal charge can leave you wondering what your response should even be. Before you dig into a case, it's wise to think about the issues each criminal law services firm wishes their clients knew in advance. Let's take a look at three of the bigger criminal law concerns you should be aware of.
Few Cases Ever Go to Trial
At least 90% of cases end in guilty pleas, and many estimates put that figure even higher. Research by the New York Times indicates that 97% of federal criminal cases will be plead out.
Even if a defendant is hell-bent on going to trial, a lawyer has a legal obligation to share all plea offers made by the prosecution. They also are required to share whether they feel the deal is in the client's best interests or not. Dealing can continue so long as a verdict hasn't been rendered. It's not uncommon for a plea deal to be arrived at once jury selection begins and both sides run the risk of losing, and it's even possible to put together a deal after a trial has started.
You Won't Be Ambushed in Court
The American legal system emphasizes avoiding surprises. After a series of hearings for things like reading the charges, offering bail and asking for a plea, the court will order what's called discovery. At that point, the prosecution has to show you everything they have. This includes anything that might get you off the hook.
The Real Fight is Early
Contrary to what TV and movies depict, the best chance for most defendants to beat a charge isn't in front of a judge or a jury. It's before a charge is ever filed. This is one big reason it's prudent to have a lawyer involved from the first hint of law enforcement interest in you, even if it appears the cops or a prosecutor only want to talk to you as a witness.
It's critical to keep criminal exposure to a minimum by knowing your rights and making sure the police don't overstep theirs. This means not talking to prosecutors, cops or private investigators without an attorney present. Don't get chatty with the police, even if you're trying to be helpful. You have the right to counsel even in situations where no charges are being threatened against you, and you should be quick to invoke it.