Hiring a criminal defense lawyer is essential following an arrest. A battle-tested team fighting by your side can make all the difference, no matter the charge. You need someone with the experience and knowledge to create an effective defense and get your charges dropped or reduced. If you pursue your case alone, you risk unfair treatment and the maximum sentence possible.
When your life and liberty are on the line, you want the best criminal defense attorney to handle your case. The Law Offices of Justin E. Sterling has over two decades of trial experience representing clients in Los Angeles criminal cases. Count on us to protect your rights and defend you against the charges you face. Call or contact us online today for a free consultation.
What Does a Defense Attorney Do in a Criminal Case?
A criminal defense lawyer protects their client throughout the entire legal process. The goal is to develop a legal strategy to minimize the consequences of an arrest and avoid a conviction if possible. Many defense attorneys take cases involving a range of criminal offenses. Others focus on specific types of crimes.
During a criminal case, a defense lawyer takes on multiple responsibilities, such as:
- Investigating the charges – Typically, lawyers start with an investigation. They spend time reviewing the circumstances of the charges and looking through the evidence against their client. They might also hire a third party to help with the investigation, such as a private investigator or an expert witness.
- Providing legal guidance – Defense attorneys provide valuable legal guidance. They advise their clients on possible defense strategies and outcomes. That could include negotiating a plea deal or taking the case to trial.
- Preparing your defense – A criminal defense attorney will prepare a defense against the charges to present in court. They will obtain evidence, look for ways to counter the prosecutor’s case, and track down witnesses to testify on your behalf.
- Filing an appeal – A conviction is not necessarily the end of a criminal case. A criminal defense attorney could file an appeal to overturn a sentence or a conviction (if the original case involved misconduct or errors).
When Should I Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?
You should hire a criminal defense lawyer immediately after your arrest. Building a successful case requires time, so you need a lawyer to be with you from the beginning. They can protect your rights, ensure that you do not incriminate yourself, represent you at trial, and assist throughout your case.
What Should I Ask a Potential Criminal Defense Attorney?
The top criminal defense lawyers have the extensive experience, skills, and resources to handle any criminal matter, from minor traffic infractions to homicide. Looking for someone who will meet your needs and represent you successfully requires research.
You should never hire a defense attorney before meeting with them in person. During your initial consultation, ask them questions to determine if they’re the right fit. The following sections include some common questions to ask your potential criminal defense attorney, such as:
“When can I call you?”
Time is critical in a criminal case. You need someone who can start immediately. Your criminal defense lawyer should also be available when you need them. You don’t want someone who takes days or weeks before returning your call. A prompt response shows you can depend on your attorney and their team to treat you as a priority.
You can determine their availability by asking about the lawyer’s primary methods of contact. Some attorneys provide direct lines at their office, by cell phone, and by e-mail. The law firm might have a number dedicated to calls that come in outside regular business hours. When hiring someone with 24/7 availability, you can expect ongoing communication.
“What types of cases do you handle?”
Not all lawyers focus exclusively on criminal law. They may represent clients in various types of cases, like divorce or business disputes. However, you should hire an attorney who focuses specifically on criminal defense. If they concentrate on multiple areas of the law, they might not have in-depth knowledge of the criminal justice system or the prosecutors they will be up against.
“Do you have references?”
Good attorneys have no problem providing references to clients. They might direct you to online reviews or the testimonials page on their firm’s website. You can learn much about a criminal defense lawyer by reading comments from previous clients. If you see more negative than positive reviews, chances are they’re not the person you want to hire.
“How many cases have you taken to trial?”
A well-rounded defense attorney should have significant trial experience. If you meet with someone who has never taken a case to trial, you should consider whether you want them defending you. They might avoid trial because they would prefer a plea deal. A plea bargain can be beneficial in some situations but may not always be in the client’s best interest.
Trial experience is critical in criminal cases. Although getting the charges dropped or negotiating a fair plea deal is a desirable skill, knowing your lawyer can defend you in court is essential. They should be willing to fight for you at trial if necessary.
“Do you communicate strategy with your clients?”
Your criminal defense lawyer’s defense strategy should be one you believe can help your case. A situation where an attorney doesn’t ask for their client’s input is not ideal.
The lawyer who defends you should consider what you want and advise you on possible strategies. They should also understand your goals and only proceed with a plan that you feel confident about.
What the Law Offices of Justin E. Sterling Can Do for You
When the fate of your future hangs in the balance, selecting the right criminal defense attorney is vital. Don’t be afraid to meet with potential candidates and ask the necessary questions. At The Law Offices of Justin E. Sterling, we understand you have choices and can build a solid case for you.
Our firm has an experienced legal team and in-house investigators to analyze your case and prepare a strong defense. If you were arrested or charged with a crime, contact us for your free case review with a proven criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles.