Criminal Defense Lawyer Near You

Find out more about criminal defense, criminal lawyers and other things important criminal law cases et cetera

A criminal defense lawyer can be defined as a person who specializes in defending people or organizations that are charged with different kinds of criminal activities.

Most of these lawyers practice privately and retained privately while there are those employed at different jurisdictions so as to represent poor or needy people (the public defenders).

The American Bar Association reported in their 2016 Lawyer Demographic Research that 75 percent or lawyers including criminal defense attorneys are in private practice

A lawyer for criminal defense may practice differently, but this depends on the jurisdiction and the federal or state laws that are in place.

Criminal law is an important facet of the judicial system because it defines the different types of crimes and how they should be treated.

Criminal defense attorneys are also important because they help people or organizations to understand their legal position and how to conduct themselves.

A good criminal defense ensures that one gets a fair and free trial.

Criminal defense lawyers are entrusted to deal with different issues that surround arrests that are made. They also deal with criminal investigation issues, criminal charges, appeals, sentencing, and all types of post-trial issues.

It is very common for the attorneys to pick a specific part of criminal law and specialize in it. This is one of the reasons why you find lawyers who are so informed about a certain area but not necessarily as much about others.

These are the best people to offer representation to you, should you find yourself on the wrong side of the law. 

What is criminal law?

Criminal law is a body within the law, which is associated with crimes. It prohibits any conduct that is perceived as harmful, threatening or conduct that can endanger the safety, health, property, or the moral welfare of a person including oneself. The criminal law is often established through a statute.

This means that criminal law has to be enacted by way of legislation. It includes punishing and then rehabilitating the violators. 

You will notice that the criminal law may be different in different jurisdictions. It is also quite different from what we know as civil law. Civil law concentrates on resolving disputes and compensating victims. 

Criminal proceedings are usually official and much formalized and are handled by lawyers for criminal defense

What is criminal defense?

Criminal defense is a process where protection is given to people after they are accused of participating in crimes.

Usually, the prosecutor and law enforcement have many resources that they can use during a legal proceeding. This means that the accused person needs all the protection that he or she can get. 

A fair trial usually means that a criminal defendant should have a criminal defense attorney who has skills and one that understands all the protections that are provided by the law. 

Most attorneys in this facet of the law understand all constitutional guarantees and they use them to help clients. Usually, the prosecution relies on the evidence that the government collects. Substance tests, confessions, statements from witnesses, or physical items can all be used to serve as evidence. 

All evidence needs to be collected in a reasonable way. If force is used, then such evidence may be overlooked and may not be used during a trial.  

Types of criminal offenses or practice areas 

There are many types of criminal offenses that exist. They may also be referred to as practice areas of crime. Criminal defense attorneys can handle these and more. They include:

  • Theft crimes: This refers to any crimes that are committed against property like fraud, liberty theft, shoplifting, robbery, looting, larceny, embezzlement, and burglary. 
  • Petty theft: This is a theft crime which is usually based on the property that has low value. Many states normally divide theft into petty or grand theft. Any theft involving a value of less than $400 is categorized as petty theft in many states. 
  • Sex crimes: These are crimes that occur when an act of violence happens in the course of sexual acts and especially when one party does not consent or when it happens with a person who cannot consent legally. 
  • Assault: This is where physical harm or any unwanted contact is inflicted on a person or the threat to do such an act. 
  • Battery: The unlawful physical harm that happens after one threatens is the battery. It differs from assault in the sense that most people define assault as the threat to inflict such harm. 
  • Drug crimes: This relates to manufacturing, possession, or distribution of drugs, which are considered to have some potential of being abused. It also covers drug production and drug trafficking. 
  • DUI/DWI: DUI is driving under the influence while DWI means driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired. These may mean the same or may be defined different from one state to the next.
  • Drug possession: This is a crime of possessing any illegal drug meant for sale, distribution, or personal use. There are different types of illegal drugs depending on the jurisdiction, circumstances, and the drug itself. 
  • Domestic violence: This is abuse or violence by a person against another when they are in domestic settings such as cohabitation or marriage. 
  • Bench warrant: A warrant of arrest ordered against defendants by judges in criminal cases or a proceeding is called a bench warrant. This is issued when the defendant does not present him or herself for the trial. 
  • Fraud: This is deception done intentionally to secure unlawful or unfair gain or to deny someone of his or her legal rights. It can fall under criminal or civil law or cause loss of rights, property, or money.  
  • Rape and statutory rape: Rape can be defined as sexual intercourse without consent. Statutory rape is sexual intercourse with a minor even with consent. 
  • Prostitution: The business when one engages in different sexual activities to get payment is characterized as prostitution.  Some people call it hooking, commercial sex, or sexual services.
  • Expungement: This is a process that is ordered by a court where legal arrest records of criminal convictions or arrests are erased or sealed from others in law. 
  • Restraining orders: Also called a protective order, this is issued by the courts to offer protection to an entity or individual in situations where there is alleged violence, sexual assault, stalking, harassment, or assault.
  • Child abuse: This is the mistreatment of a child and can be psychological, sexual, or physical. It also includes neglect by caregivers or parents. 
  • Child molestation: This is the sexual exploitation of a child and it is a serious and pervasive issue with legal, moral, social, and clinical implications. 
  • Embezzlement:  Withholding assets with the intention to convert them when they are held in trust or for specific purposes is referred to as embezzlement which falls under financial fraud. 
  • Fraud: This can be referred to as intentional deception to secure unlawful or unfair gain or to deny a person a legal right.
  • Credit card fraud: Fraud with credit cards is a wide area of criminal law that covers fraud and theft that is committed involving or using payment cards like debit cards or credit cards to access funds or goods. 
  • Tax evasion: this is where an individual, trusts, or corporations evade paying their taxes. It also entails the deliberate misrepresentation of financial affairs to the tax authorities.
  • Property crimes: Crimes under this category include vandalism, shoplifting, arson, vehicle theft, theft, larceny, and burglary among others. The result of the crime is to get a property, money, or any other kind of benefit. 
  • Vandalism: This is the deliberate damage or destruction of private or public property. It covers damage like defacement and graffiti directed to any kind of property without the owner’s approval.
  • Appeals: This is a process where case reviews are carried out. In this case, the parties ask for a change in a decision that has already been made officially. Criminal defense attorneys are involved for better success.
  • Robbery: Robbery is the crime of attempting to take or taking a valuable item through force, causing the victim to be afraid, or through threats. 
  • Carjacking/auto theft: Carjacking happens when a car is taken illegally with the owner being present. Auto theft involves taking a car illegally in the absence of the owner. 
  • Grand theft: This involves the theft of money or property. Grand theft usually involves amounts from $500 to $1000. However, this may differ from one state to the next. 
  • Murder: Killing another person unlawfully and with malice is murder. The state of mind of the defendant has to be determined to distinguish murder from different types of homicide. 
  • DMV/DUI hearings: This is a court process. In most cases, it deals with the driving privileges of an individual. Your driving license can be suspended. 
  • Probation violation: This is an offense that happens when a person breaks probation terms and conditions. 
  • Parole hearing: This is a seating that is held to determine the possibility of an inmate’s release from prison and transition to parole supervision in the public for the remaining part of their sentence. 
  • Gang crimes: Gang crimes are usually conducted by members of a gang and they are often violent and serious. Violence, drugs, guns, and gangs are all interconnected. 
  • Gun crimes: These are crimes that are committed with a firearm used or present. Firearms are weapons used to shoot by igniting the gunpowder. 
  • White-collar crimes: These crimes are nonviolent and are financially motivated. Government and business professionals usually commit such crimes. 
  • Juvenile crimes: These are unlawful acts that are committed by individuals that are not yet of statutory age or juveniles. They include status offenses, violent crimes, property crimes, etc.
  • Kidnapping: This occurs when a person is carried away unlawfully and confined against his or her will. Kidnapping is classified under composite crime.
  • Arson: is a crime that involves the malicious and willful charring or setting fire to property. It refers to buildings, most of the time, but can also include forests, watercraft, motor vehicles and so on. 

Representation by a qualified criminal attorney is your best chance. 

Misdemeanor vs. Felony offenses 

Misdemeanor and felony offenses are crime categories. 

Misdemeanor

Misdemeanors are crimes more severe than infractions. This is a criminal offense with potentially less than a year jail term in most states. Misdemeanors are divided into classes depending on the length of the jail term.

  1. Class A: length of the jail term is over 6 months but under one year
  2. Class B: length of the jail term is over 30 days but less than six months
  3. Class C: length of the jail term is over 5 days but less than 30 days

The term is served in county jails instead of prisons with high security. The prosecutors can determine the cases that should be charged and the ones that can be negotiated. 

Felony

This is a serious crime but may have different definitions according to the jurisdiction. Some classify it as a crime that attracts a jail term of over one year. However, there are some places where felonies are not classified or defined. Normally, felonies are defined by the duration of the jail term. In addition, they are served at a federal or state prison. 

  1. Class A: death penalty or life imprisonment
  2. Class B: 25 years or more
  3. Class C:  below 25 years, but over 10 years
  4. Class D: below 10 years, but over 5 years
  5. Class E: below 5 years, but over 1 year

Punishments are sometimes very severe so it is important to observe all the criminal procedures to ensure that the rights of the defendant are protected. Criminal lawyers are beneficial in these cases.

Federal vs. state criminal case process

State crimes are actions that end up breaking the criminal law of the state. 

Federal crime refers to acts that are made illegal or criminal through federal law and are prosecuted within a federal court. An example is kidnapping. The process of handling these types of charges is kind of similar.

Here is the process:

  1. Investigation: During the investigation, all sorts of evidence and information is collected. An arrest or search may be conducted at this point. 
  2. Charging: This happens after the evidence collected is examined and then a decision is made on whether the case should be taken to the jury. 
  3. Arraignment or initial hearing: These hearings are done soon after the charge or arrest of the defendant. The charges and rights are read.  Attorneys for criminal defense services are arranged at this point. 
  4. Discovery: At this point, the parties involved get familiar with all facts, witnesses are interviewed, and the evidence is reviewed. The trial strategy is then developed.
  5. Plea bargaining: The government can give the defendant a plea to avoid trial and receive faster sentencing.
  6. Preliminary hearing: The prosecutor must show the court that the evidence is adequate to bring charges.
  7. Pre-trial motions: These are requests for a decision to be made on different issues before the trial commences.
  8. Trial: During the trial, the defense and the prosecution demonstrate their cases and a final decision is made.
  9. Post-trial motions: This is where a conviction is made and motions are filed.
  10. Sentencing: A judge sentences the defendant.
  11. Appeal: After he or she has been found guilty, an appeal can be made to challenge the outcome.

Types of defense that can be used for defendants  

Criminal lawyers can use different kinds of defenses during a trial. Appearing in court for a trial is always very sensitive and it is important to plan a defense so as not to be found guilty. This is an argument that is given to challenge the sufficiency and validity of the evidence that the prosecution has. 

The types of defenses include:

  • Insanity

This is where it is stated that the crime was committed while the defendant was not in the right state of mind. According to a  Justice Reference Service abstract on the insanity defense, the rationale behind the insanity defense is that only the controllable misdeeds should be punished by law.

Typically the defense team says that severe mental defect or illness existed at the time of the crime being committed. 

  • Duress and coercion

This is a defense where the defendant says that he or she was actually forced to do wrong unlawfully.

  • Withdrawal and abandonment

It is also called renunciation and it states that the defendant was about to be an accomplice or about to commit a crime, but did not because he or she decided to withdraw. 

  • Self-defense

It is where one says that their actions were to defend him or herself.

  • Consent

This is where the defendant says that they did commit the crime, but after the victim consented to the same. 

  • Intoxication

You may not be cleared of most crimes with this defense, but in some cases, it can negate some crime elements. Being intoxicated can negate intent in some crimes.

  • Statute of limitations

This is when the time for charging a crime has already elapsed meaning that charges need to be dropped.

  • Automatism

This is a case of muscles acting without being controlled by the mind and without consciousness because of post-traumatic stress.

  • Necessity

This means that the act can be justified if it prevented greater or foreseeable harm.

Who are criminal defense lawyers?

Criminal defense lawyers are lawyers who specialize in defending companies and individuals who have been charged with different types of criminal activities. Some are retained privately, and others are employed in different jurisdictions to represent people who do not have the ability to hire their own lawyer. 

Criminal defense lawyers handle all issues surrounding the arrests, investigations, charges, appeals, sentencing and all sorts of post-trial issues. 

What exactly does a criminal defense lawyer do?

Lawyers for criminal defense play many roles during a case. They defend the accused and they speak on his or her behalf. The lawyer: 

  • stops filing of charges
  • creates the best defense strategy
  • conducts interviews regarding the case
  • helps you deal with the emotions related to the trial
  • offer an objective point of view in the process
  • carries out investigations regarding the case
  • reviews the case that the prosecution is preparing
  • analyzes the evidence
  • remains in contact with the client and briefs on important matters
  • helps with selecting the jury
  • participates in plea bargaining
  • participates in trials
  • represents the defendant during the sentencing 
  • prepares for appeal

Why is hiring a criminal attorney important for your charges?

After one is accused of any crime, he or she is in a rather precarious situation. The criminal case outcome can alter a life completely. Therefore, you always need a great criminal defense attorney handling your case. 

Fighting such a charge cannot be left to chance. Going through it all without the help of a lawyer can be a bad decision. The best defense attorneys have a clear understanding of the law. Things are not as easy as they appear on TV.  Lawyers for a criminal defense know the court systems and are therefore the best people to handle all cases. 

Types of criminal defense attorneys that can represent you: Public defender vs. private attorneys 

Public defender

This is an attorney appointed or elected and is often assigned to offer a defense to anyone who may not be able to hire one on their own. It is not easy to dismiss such a person and one must ask for permission from the court.
       

       Pros

  • offer free representation
  • have the necessary knowledge, meaning they can also serve as private attorneys
  • have a lot of experience
  • offer legal assistance to the needy and poor
  • can specialize in a given law area

       Cons

  • sometimes underpaid and overworked
  • may have to handle a lot of cases at the same time
  • may not have adequate resources to deal with one case at a time
  • may not offer full support to the defendants
  • could be hard for them to find an investigator

Private attorney

This attorney is hired by the defendant privately. It is much easier to fire and hire a new private attorney as compared to public defenders. 

       Pros

  • available and have enough time to commit to clients
  • can afford to bring in more resources giving you a better chance of defense

      Cons

  • cost may be limiting

How to choose and what to look for in a defense lawyer?

Selecting the best defense attorney can be tricky, but it is also very important. It is vital to find a lawyer who can be trusted and one who is reputable. A good criminal defense attorney has:

  • great communication skills
  • a good reputation in the field
  • expertise in the area of your accusation
  • an ethical practice
  • a great record of successful cases
  • offers fair costs and different payment options

How much are the costs and how does a criminal law firm charge their clients?

Paying a criminal lawyer is probably one of the most upfront questions that we all rush to ask when we find ourselves facing a lawsuit. Different law firms have different payment options. There are those who take cases on retainer while others opt for the average hourly rate. 

Hourly billing is where the defendant is billed per the actual time that the lawyer devotes to the case. This also includes expenses incurred by the lawyer during the course of legal representation. 

Most of the lawyers need a retainer fee before the case starts regardless of the billing method selected. This amount is paid upfront and is calculated as per the rate is chosen.  

Payment options

There are many payment options that lawyers can extend to their clients. We have already established that most criminal defense lawyers ask for a retainer fee even before taking the case.

The lawyer gets their payment each time before they handle a case. 

Hourly billing is also an option. There are lawyers who bill per case. It is, however, important to note that there are many criminal attorneys who offer affordable payment plans. You can discuss what you are most comfortable with and come to an agreement on how the full amount will be paid and in what time duration. 

Agreeing on a payment plan may still mean that you pay something upfront. However, the overall bill is spread out over a longer period. It is important to seek a lawyer who can give you a reasonable balance. 

Most criminal lawyers offer free consultation!

Sometimes criminal charges happen without notice. Other times, you can predict its occurrence. When you are being investigated, you may not be sure of whether an attorney is needed or not. However, taking too much time to ask for a consultation could have a negative impact on your freedom and rights. 

It is always important to get in touch with a criminal attorney as soon as possible. It is not necessary for you to wait until the charges have been filed. When you find out you are being investigated, seek legal counsel. 

One of the things that you should always bear in mind is the fact that most attorneys are ready and willing to offer a free consultation. This means that you have a chance to speak to professionals who will evaluate the issue and give you the possible outcome. You can get valuable insight without having to pay a dime. 

Because consultation is free, you are also in a position to contact different lawyers for a different or second opinion.

Get connected with a law firm now!

Please call to be connected with a criminal defense lawyer now at no cost to you for a free no-obligation consultation. Contact 866-335-9767 immediately for help.