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Explore General Legal Issues

Every Step Of The Way: How Your Defense Attorney Works For You

by Ralph Griffin

If you've found yourself arrested and charged with a crime, you may be advised to seek legal representation from a criminal law attorney. While this is undoubtedly good advice, you may also wonder what you can expect your attorney to do for you in your quest to prove your innocence. To help you make more sense of things, read below for a step-by-step overview of the criminal justice process and the way your attorney brings their expertise and skill with them to benefit your case.

The Arraignment (or Bail Hearing)

Things can work slightly differently in various locations, but you will come before a judge in some manner within days of your arrest. You may not have had time to get a lawyer before your arraignment and in that case, it's advisable to plead "not guilty" to your charges. If you are offered bail but it's too high or if you are not offered bail at all, contact your attorney. Bail should be offered for all but the most serious of offenses and it should be of a reasonable amount. Your attorney can argue with the judge for bail or a reduction by pointing out the ways you are not a danger to the public if free on bail prior to the trial.

Plea Bargaining

Nearly all criminal matters are resolved using plea bargains. This agreement ends the case and keeps the court calendars less crowded by precluding a trial. Instead, you will be offered the opportunity to plead guilty to a certain charge in exchange for giving up your rights to a trial. Often, the charges you plead to are reduced, but not always. It's vital that you only agree to a plea bargain under the advice of your attorney, who can point out the merits of the agreement and help you evaluate the plea.

Trial Preparation

If you decide to proceed to trial, the real work begins. While the trial might be several months away, the pretrial process is a busy one. Criminal discovery involves your attorney working with the state prosecutor to exchange information about your case. This can include the sharing of evidence, testimony, a deposition, and more. In some cases, your attorney will also be conducting an investigation of the case and gathering evidence to support your claims of innocence.

The Trial

You are likely familiar with the role of the defense attorney during a trial. The opening and closing statements and everything in-between will showcase your lawyer's ability to destroy the state's case against you and result in a "not guilty" plea. Talk to a defense lawyer about your case today.