What Is a Criminal Defense Attorney and When Do I Need One?



There are circumstances in your life that may require the services of a Charlotte criminal defense attorney. Then there are times when you must have a criminal defense attorney. But how do you know when? Do you need one for a speeding ticket? Drug charges, reckless driving, DUI? 


The safest answer is to always consult with a criminal defense attorney if you've been charged with a crime. Without the guidance of an experienced attorney, there are simply too many factors that could lead to a worse outcome for your case. 


What is a Criminal Defense Attorney?


According to Wikipedia, "...a criminal defense attorney is a lawyer specializing in the defense of individuals and companies charged with criminal activity. Some criminal defense lawyers are privately retained, while others are employed by the various jurisdictions with criminal courts for appointment to represent indigent persons; the latter are generally called public defenders."


That's a good definition of the term criminal defense attorney, but there are a lot of moving parts to what a criminal defense does. Some lawyers specialize in drug possession defense while others may specialize in DUI defense, etc. Regardless of specialties and niches, the most important thing you need to know about criminal defense attorneys is that they have the skill and knowledge to minimize the damage a criminal charge can cause to your finances and your quality of life. 


Because they often deal with charges from domestic assault to speeding tickets to drug trafficking, a criminal defense attorney must have a clear understanding of the laws pertaining to a specific charge. For example, the Fourth Amendment protects against unlawful searches and seizures, while the Fifth and Sixth Amendments govern the right to remain silent so you don't incriminate yourself.


But there are many amendments and laws that are not as familiar — unless you are an experienced criminal defense attorney. 


What Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Do?


Criminal defense attorneys have a range of responsibilities with every case they represent, both in and out of court. Think of your criminal defense attorney as a skilled consultant, investigator, and negotiator who represents your best interests.


Criminal Defense Attorney as Consultant


Consider a criminal lawyer as a legal consultant who guides you through the criminal process. Whether a defense lawyer is a public defender or works in a private firm, their first responsibility is to consult and advise their client about the case. The attorney will ask relevant questions to uncover information relevant to a defense. They will get to know you, answer your questions, and begin guiding you through the criminal defense process.  


Criminal Defense Attorney as Investigator


A criminal defense attorney's next responsibility is to investigate the circumstances relevant to your charges. This investigation could include interviewing law enforcement, witnesses, and experts. An attorney may request research by outside parties, reconstruct the events surrounding the "crime scene," and a host of other efforts to gather the most evidence possible. Once your criminal defense attorney has all the facts, they will examine all the evidence and begin putting together the best defense. 


Criminal Defense Attorney as Negotiator


An experienced criminal defense attorney must be a skilled negotiator to mount the best defense. Prosecutors will often offer a more lenient sentence, reduced fines, and even dismissal if they are working with an attorney who understands the system and knows how to work with prosecutors and the courts. A good defense attorney simply knows how to make deals that are in your best interest.


Defense lawyers may consult with prosecutors prior to a trial or hearing to bargain for a lesser charge. In court, they negotiate with the judge and/or jury to convince them to see your case in a favorable light. Maybe most importantly, a skilled criminal attorney knows how to work with judges and prosecutors to lessen the sentence if you're convicted. 


Let a criminal attorney represent you with their experience, skills, and knowledge for a better outcome. Contact the Law Offices of Jason H. Reece in Charlotte, North Carolina, and find out what we can do for you.