What Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Do?


If you’ve been arrested or charged with a crime, you are innocent until proven guilty. Being investigated or charged does not mean you will be convicted. You have the legal right to defend yourself, and the burden is on the prosecution to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high standard to meet.

Unfortunately, navigating the criminal justice system can be challenging. You might feel the odds are stacked against you. At the Law Offices of Justin E. Sterling, we want you to know that you do not have to give up and accept the harshest penalties under the law. You don’t have to communicate with the police, prosecutors, and judges alone. A Los Angeles criminal defense attorney can be your advocate. A lawyer is someone who is in your corner, ready to protect your rights and defend you.

How Do Criminal Defense Attorneys Help Clients?

A criminal defense attorney is someone with professional training in criminal law and the criminal justice system. A defense lawyer protects the rights of individuals accused of crimes and develops strategies to get charges reduced or dropped through negotiation with the prosecutor or courtroom litigation.

A criminal defense lawyer can represent an individual through all aspects of a criminal court case, including:

  • Assignment of the case
  • Investigation of the case
  • Analysis of the evidence
  • Jury selection
  • Plea bargaining
  • Trial participation
  • Sentencing
  • Appeals

When you hire a defense lawyer in Los Angeles, they will examine the facts of your case and devise an effective strategy in pursuit of the most favorable outcome possible.

Advantages of Private Attorneys vs. Court-Appointed Attorneys

There are two different types of criminal defense lawyers: private attorneys and those who are court-appointed. A court-appointed attorney is also known as a public defender.

If you are a fan of police or court dramas, you have probably heard some version of the Miranda rights.

One of your Miranda rights is the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, one will be appointed to you. This attorney is a public defender. A public defender works for the county or state government. Although their representation comes at no cost, public defenders typically have a large caseload, meaning they might not have much time to dedicate to your case.

Hiring a private attorney means you’ll pay for your legal representation out of pocket. When you pay for your defense, you have a say in who represents you. You can privately select the defense attorney that best meets your needs and has the experience to manage your case. This means you can feel confident that your attorney is looking out for your best interests.

Private attorneys often have a smaller caseload than public defenders. That’s an advantage because they can dedicate more time and attention to building a solid legal defense for you.

No matter which option you choose, the quality of your legal representation comes down to dedication and experience.

Is Self-Representation a Good Idea?

You have a third representation option if you’re charged with a criminal violation. You can choose to represent yourself. Self-representation is also called pro se. At the Law Offices of Justin E. Sterling, we strongly advise you not to represent yourself. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer fighting for you significantly improves your chances of achieving a more favorable outcome.

Skilled defense attorneys know the complicated dynamics of the California legal system and can ensure all procedures and protocols are followed. In some cases, a judge may prevent an individual from representing themself if they feel the defendant is not competent enough to present their case effectively.

Is hiring a criminal lawyer worth it? Think about what’s at stake. You stand to lose your life, freedom, reputation, and financial stability. Hiring an attorney may be the best decision you ever make.

When is the Best Time to Hire a Defense Attorney?

Hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as you learn you’re under investigation or charged with a crime. Too often, people believe that hiring an attorney right away makes them appear guilty. However, you need effective legal representation from the beginning to prevent your rights from being violated.

Before you talk to the police, before you speak to your family, before you do anything, contact a skilled Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer.

Can I Afford a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

The cost of a criminal defense attorney prevents some people from picking up the phone when they need help. Yes, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney will cost you money. But consider the consequences if you lose your case. A conviction could mean jail time, expensive fines, and restrictions on your freedom. It can affect your reputation, ability to secure housing, find work, and own a firearm. Put simply, life with a criminal record will be harder.

Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney

Being charged with a criminal offense in California doesn’t mean you lose your legal rights. At the Law Offices of Justin E. Sterling, we will craft a comprehensive and strategic legal defense tailored to fit the unique circumstances of your case. Contact our Los Angeles office today for a free consultation.