When facing a criminal charge, there are three legal representation options that an individual must choose from: self representation, utilize a court-appointed lawyer or hire a private criminal defense attorney. The smallest percent choose self-representation, which is the most risky option. In addition to lacking experience and access to legal material, self-defendants do not possess the objectivity required to present their case. |
While some may mistakenly believe that since they plan to plead guilty they don’t need a lawyer, they are forgetting that a lawyer might well be able to figure out options or to reduce the sentencing. There are many factors to take into account when determine whether it is best for a defendant to plea bargain or go to trial. A professional lawyer will be able to analyze and evaluate all facts surrounding the case including the evidence held by the state, testimony from witnesses and physical evidence.
Court-appointed criminal defense attorneys are not available to everyone. Each state and municipality has guidelines to determine eligibility for full or partial legal representation. These guidelines are based on the income of the defendant and take into account only their sole income, not that of a spouse or other relative. While it is commonly assumed that state attorneys are not as effective as private attorneys, studies show that private defense attorneys, on average, only produce marginally better conviction to dismissal rates. Public defenders have the advantage of extensive experience in and knowledge of a specific court system, including relationships with most parties involved in a trial.
The disadvantage is that a defendant is not able to select a public attorney. And although there are ways to request a change of public defender, it can be very difficult to successfully do so. Defendants lack the option of interviewing potential candidates and select one with whom they feel comfortable and communicate and work well with. This is an important part of the process when selecting a private attorney. A defendant should interview several criminal defense attorneys, having prepared plenty of questions in advance. It is important to select an experienced trial lawyer who has defended against similar criminal charges as those you are facing. Resist hiring an acquaintance or a cheaper lawyer who specializes in another area of legal practice. An experienced criminal defense attorney will have access to research and knowledge of related trial outcomes that will allow them to be able to develop a comprehensive strategy.
When in need of a criminal defense attorney, Charleston residents count on the experience and professionalism of one who can give them the best possible representation. To know more, visit http://www.stephenharrislaw.com
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