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What Can an Attorney Do for Me?

Posted by on in Criminal Defense
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Well, sometimes not much, and sometimes quite a lot. The problem is that there is no way to know what can be done and should be done without actually working on the case.

Criminal defense lawyers do much more than simply make arguments and question witnesses in a trial. For example, defense lawyers:

  • Negotiate “deals” with prosecutors, often arranging for reduced charges and lesser sentences.
  • Formulate sentencing programs tailored to a client’s specific needs, often helping defendants avoid future brushes with the criminal justice system.
  • Help defendants cope with the feelings of fear, embarrassment, reduced self-esteem, and anxiety that criminal charges tend to produce in many people.
  • Provide defendants with a reality check—a knowledgeable, objective perspective on their situation and what is likely to happen should their cases go to trial. This perspective is vital for defendants trying to decide whether to accept a prosecutor’s offered plea bargain.
  • Are familiar with important legal rules that people representing themselves would find almost impossible to locate on their own, because many criminal law rules are hidden away in court interpretations of federal and state statutes and constitutions. For example, understanding what may constitute an unreasonable search and seizure often requires familiarity with a vast array of state and federal appellate court opinions.
  • Are familiar with local court customs and procedures that are not written down anywhere.
  • Understand the possible hidden costs of pleading guilty that a self-repre­sented person might never think about.
  • Spend time on a case that a defendant cannot afford to spend. Defendants who can afford to hire a lawyer usually have jobs, and therefore lack the time (and energy) to devote to such time-consuming activities as gathering and examining documents, doing legal research, and talking to witnesses.

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