When Should I Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney

When Should I Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney

Criminal Law

There are some key things to consider if you need the help of a criminal defense attorney. First and foremost, it’s essential to understand when to contact a defense lawyer. While the criminal justice system is infamous for moving slowly, time isn’t necessarily on your side. Generally, the sooner you get a criminal defense attorney, the better.

At What Point Should I Hire A Criminal Defense Attorney?

A criminal case moves through a series of stages, so defendants will often wonder when it’s appropriate to contact a criminal defense lawyer. Legal defense experts will recommend contacting a lawyer as soon as possible. If you’ve been arrested, the optimal time to hire a lawyer will be before your arraignment hearing, which is your initial appearance in front of a judge.

Three key things take place at your arraignment hearing, which typically occurs within 48-72 hours of your arrest. First, a judge will list your criminal charges. Next, you’ll enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere. Lastly, you’ll learn the status of your bail. You may be released on bail or held in custody. Of course, it can be advantageous to have a skilled lawyer by your side throughout each of these steps.

criminal defense lawyer will likely advise you to plead not guilty and help you understand your bail terms. Even though arraignment hearings are brief and move quickly, a lot takes place. Having a criminal defense attorney by your side can help you take the proper steps at the onset of your case.

What If I Haven’t Been Arrested Yet? 

Not all arrests take place suddenly and unexpectedly. In many cases, a defendant will hear about a warrant out for their arrest or that they’re a suspect in a criminal investigation. Either way, it’s necessary to reach out to a philadelphia criminal defense attorney  lawyer to discuss your status.

A criminal defense lawyer can help you discover if there is a warrant out for your arrest and advise you on how to move forward. More than likely, your lawyer will ask you to give them as much information as possible about your alleged criminal activity and advise you to turn yourself into police custody.

It’s important to remember that you still may be a suspect in a criminal investigation even if there is no warrant out for your arrest. However, law enforcement is not required to and will likely not inform you that you’re under investigation. Speaking with a criminal defense lawyer about the possibility of an arrest can be beneficial. They can offer advice on what to say or what not to say if police approach you and begin building a defense strategy if charges are brought against you.

I’ve Already Begun Working With A Public Defender. Can I Still Hire A Private Criminal Defense Attorney? 

There are cases when the court provides a public defender, but the defendant finds their representation inadequate. It’s always important to remember that you have the right to request a change in counsel. But again, the timing rule applies —the sooner you do this, the better.

For instance, if you’re in the middle of a trial, a judge may advise against a change in counsel. This is especially true if evidence has already been gathered and presented and witnesses have provided testimony.

The Role of a Criminal Defense Attorney - Gilles Law, PLLC

Remember that if you’re simply moving from one public defender to another, you will not be in control of choosing your new counsel. However, if you’re requesting to hire a private criminal defense lawyer, you can decide which attorney is best for your case.

Do I Need To Hire A Criminal Defense Lawyer If I’m Only Facing A Misdemeanor Charge? 

Because misdemeanors are considered less severe than felony charges, many defendants believe they don’t need the help of a criminal defense lawyer. However, keep in mind that you can still face up to one year in jail for a misdemeanor conviction in many states.

Even if you’re not sentenced to time in jail, you can still face harsh consequences and heavy fines. Most importantly, you’ll be dealing with a criminal conviction on your record. If you’re looking for employment, a place to live, or applying for a loan, having a criminal history appear on background checks can produce devastating results.

A criminal defense attorney can work to help you avoid a conviction, jail time, and minimize other penalties. If you have a misdemeanor on your record, a criminal defense lawyer can help you get the charge expunged, which is when you have a charge erased from your record. Expungement is possible for most non-violent first offenders.

Should I Meet With More Than One Attorney? 

If you have the time and resources, meeting with more than one attorney is recommended. Most criminal defense lawyers will offer a free consultation to discuss your case. You can learn more about their legal skills and experience at these initial meetings. Be sure to ask questions like, “Have you ever taken on a case like mine?” and “Will you be the one handling my case?” when you meet with your potential lawyers.

Key Takeaways: When Should I Hire A Criminal Defense Lawyer?

In conclusion, it’s best not to waste any time when it comes to hiring a criminal defense lawyer.

The sooner you call, the sooner your lawyer can begin building your defense and investigating your case. Ideally, it’s best to have a criminal defense lawyer with you at your arraignment hearing. Even though these hearings are brief, many important things happen at this initial appearance before a judge.

If you believe there’s a warrant out for your arrest, it’s crucial to speak with a lawyer and get advice on moving forward. Remember that police do not need to notify you if you’re under a criminal investigation, but if you suspect that you’re in legal trouble, speak with an attorney as soon as possible.