A criminal defense attorney represents individuals charged with a crime. They also represent individuals who are the subjects of an investigation by a law enforcement agency. If you were arrested or believe you might be under investigation for a crime, it is in your best interest to talk to a criminal defense lawyer.

Regardless of the criminal charge, you can benefit from the guidance and counsel of an attorney who understands criminal laws. 

You might believe that your DWI charge, assault charge, or drug crime is a minor offense. However, you are making a mistake that law enforcement officers and prosecutors hope that people make. 

People who treat criminal charges lightly may not contact a criminal defense lawyer until they have talked to the police and been arrested. By this time, the police have gathered additional evidence during an interview. By assuming you do not need a lawyer, you might have made the case against you stronger.

Our criminal defense lawyer in Dallas believes that anyone charged with a crime or who might be under investigation could benefit from the counsel of a lawyer who has experience handling criminal law matters. Whether you are facing homicide charges or allegations of sex crimes, you need a criminal defense lawyer to ensure that your legal rights are protected throughout the criminal case.

Four Things to Consider When Deciding if You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are unsure whether you need to hire a criminal defense lawyer, consider these four things:

The United States Constitution states that a person has the right to legal counsel during criminal prosecutions. The right to counsel extends to misdemeanor charges and felony charges. It also applies to state criminal charges and federal crimes.

If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, the court appoints an attorney to represent you. However, court-appointed attorneys often have heavy workloads and might not have experience handling the type of criminal charges you face. It can be best to hire a private criminal defense lawyer whenever possible. 

You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. You might not have been charged with a crime, but you still have the right to counsel. It is generally never in a person’s best interest to answer questions or talk to the police without an attorney present.

The police can lie to you. Police officers can trick you into answering questions to incriminate yourself. 

Police officers might tell you that asking for a lawyer makes you appeal guilty. However, asking for a lawyer before you answer questions means you are smart. You understand your legal rights, and you are protecting yourself by asking for a lawyer.

Things You Say Could be Used Against You Even Without a Miranda Warning

Many people assume that the police officers must read them the Miranda Warning before anything they say to police officers can be used against them. However, that is not always the case. There are instances in which what you say could be used in court against you even without being read your rights.

For example, if a police officer stops you on the street and asks questions, your responses could be used in court if you voluntarily answered the questions. Police officers are only required to explain your rights if you are in custody.

If you are concerned about an interaction you had with the police, call a criminal defense lawyer. A lawyer can review the matter and advise you about the best steps to take to protect yourself from an infringement of your civil rights. 

A Criminal Lawyer Understands Criminal Laws and the Judicial Process

Do you understand the laws that apply to your criminal case? Do you understand probable cause and admissible evidence? Do you understand the rules that will apply if your case goes to a jury? If not, you need a criminal lawyer.

Criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience handling matters related to criminal law. They understand the case law and the statutes that apply in your case. They also understand the judicial process and rules of court.

For example, if probable cause did not exist for a search warrant, the evidence obtained during the search could be thrown out. Without that evidence, the prosecution might not have a case against you. However, if you do not understand the requirements for probable cause or the fact that you should examine the police’s reasons to obtain a search warrant, you might not realize you need to file a motion with the court to throw out the evidence. 

The average person is not expected to understand the complicated criminal code. However, if you represent yourself in a criminal proceeding, the court does not excuse your lack of knowledge. You are held to the same expectations as a criminal defense lawyer.

Therefore, if you are representing yourself on theft charges, you need to understand the legal requirements the prosecution must meet to prove its case. You must also understand the various defenses you could use to create reasonable doubt or refute the evidence against you if you want to win your case.

What Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer do for You?

In addition to explaining your legal rights, giving you legal advice, and guiding you through the criminal justice system, your defense attorney handles all aspects of your criminal case including:

  • Investigating the facts and circumstances of the criminal charges
  • Searches for and identifies witnesses in your case
  • Examines the evidence the prosecutor has against you
  • Reviews the arrest and search warrants to determine if your constitutional rights were violated
  • Analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of your case to determine if a plea bargain is a better option than court
  • Negotiates plea deals with the prosecution 
  • Represent you at all hearings and at trial

If a judge or jury finds you guilty of a criminal charge, your criminal defense lawyer represents you during the sentencing phase. Your lawyer may argue for leniency based on mitigating factors. If there are legal grounds for an appeal, your defense lawyer might advise you to appeal the guilty verdict.

The Decision is Yours

When and if you hire a criminal defense attorney is up to you. You are not required by law to have an attorney represent you in a criminal matter. You can represent yourself.

However, unless you are prepared to lose your freedom, potentially register as a sex offender, pay expensive fines, and potentially lose some of your legal rights, you should consider consulting with a criminal defense lawyer. The state has a team of lawyers and investigators working to obtain a guilty verdict. You deserve a legal team working to protect your rights and best interests.