When you are facing criminal charges, it is essential to know that you have the right to make your own case against the prosecution in front of the court. Your rights are defended by the law, and although you may defend yourself, a skilled defense attorney with experience navigating the court system is the best way to plead your case.
What Are the Most Common Fields of Criminal Defense?
- Sex crimes. These types of cases cover the entire gamut from sexual harassment to rape. Some of the common accusations that individuals need to defend themselves against include indecent exposure, child abuse, statutory rape, spousal rape, and prostitution. An individual who is innocent of these crimes needs to mount a strong defense against their accuser, as the very serious nature of such accusations often sheds a negative light on the accused from the start.
- Weapons crimes. These crimes include those committed with weapons, as well as illegal possession of weapons. Illegally possessing a weapon is a serious charge by itself but is often one that is added to other crimes. This may increase the punishment if the individual is convicted of the crime. Being convicted of weapons crimes often affects future employment opportunities, so it is vital to secure a solid defense.
- Theft and robbery charges. Regardless of whether a theft charge is a smaller one, such as shoplifting, or a more serious charge such as burglary, auto theft, fraud, or grand larceny, a criminal defense attorney is a must if you want to look out for your future. The severity of the case often depends on the value of the items stolen and whether a weapon was used while committing the crime. Although misdemeanor charges may result in a punishment such as fines, or a short time in county jail, a more serious conviction could lead to a devastating sentence.
- Domestic violence. These types of cases arise between individuals in any type of close relationship, such as cohabiting couples, dating couples, spouses, and parents and children. The specific crimes that often occur include physical and emotional abuse, stalking, kidnapping, and even rape. It is important to have a knowledgeable defense lawyer when facing these charges, as a conviction will not only affect the individual’s reputation but may affect employment opportunities, child visitation, and child custody rights.
- Assault and battery. These terms are closely related, but specifically, battery means the deliberate application of physical force upon another individual, while assault means to physically harm anyone on purpose. Sentencing for these crimes is often dependent upon the harm suffered by the victim, and charges may range from misdemeanors to felonies. When the crime involves the use of a weapon, it will result in a felony charge, regardless of the level of harm inflicted upon the victim.
- Drug crimes. Drug violations are some of the most common and serious crimes that criminal defense attorneys handle. The severity of these charges ranges from simple possession to trafficking of controlled substances. Factors such as quantity, the type of drug, and whether the defendant possessed, manufactured, sold, transported, or trafficked the contraband determine whether the charge is an infraction, a misdemeanor, or a felony. If these illegal actions are added to charges of illegal possession of firearms or violence, the severity of the punishment is likely to be worse.
- Driving under the influence. This is a common criminal charge in the courts today, and the potential punishment can range from mild to severe, depending on the level of impairment, the number of past convictions, and whether anyone was injured or killed by the impaired driver. In addition to losing one’s driver’s license, probation, diversionary programs, and community service, punishment for this crime may include jail time. Those who are convicted often face future employment issues, as well as trouble getting car insurance and higher premiums.
What Are the Phases of Criminal Prosecution?
If you are arrested for any crime, you have the right to retain an attorney at any point in the process. In fact, your “right to remain silent” means that you technically do not have to answer any questions from the police or investigators without first getting an attorney to represent you. The three basic phases of criminal prosecution are as follows.
- Arrest. If an individual requests an attorney as soon as they are arrested for a crime, the lawyer can start mounting a defense right away. They may begin by speaking with the prosecutor and attempting to convince them not to file a case against the accused. If the prosecutor does not dismiss the case, the attorney will investigate the details of the case and create a strategy for the defense.
- Arraignment. This step in the process is the stage at which the courts notify the individual accused of the crime of the criminal charges they are facing. Upon arraignment, the defendant will need to decide if they are going to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges. After they have made their plea, the defense attorney may try to arrange a plea bargain with the prosecutor. At this point, the judge still has the option to dismiss the case. However, if it is going to trial, the judge will determine whether the individual may be released on bail or await their court date in jail.
- Adjudication. If the individual accused of the crime enters a plea of “not guilty,” the defense attorney may represent the accused at a preliminary hearing, where they present the defendant’s case to the judge. After hearing the defense, the judge will decide if the case will go to trial or not. When a case goes to trial, the defense counsel may represent the defendant until a judgment is reached.
Hiring an Experienced Attorney Is the Best Way to Go
It is essential to hire a reputable attorney when facing criminal charges to ensure the best outcome and to give the individual accused of the crime peace of mind. The temptation to represent oneself in a criminal case may be difficult to pass up, but it rarely produces the desired outcome. The legal professionals at Exum Law Offices know how to navigate the complicated court system and help their clients through a very taxing process. If you are charged with a crime, visit our website to learn how we can help you face the challenge of going up against the prosecution.