Being accused of a crime is not something to be taken lightly. That’s why most people in this difficult situation, hire a criminal defense attorney. If you’ve been accused in a crime, here’s what is involved in criminal defense, along with the different types and how to choose the best lawyer to represent you.
What is Criminal Defense?
First, let’s define what is meant by “criminal defense.” Simply put, criminal defense is strategy that tries to dispute the arguments of the prosecution attorney. In other words, it attempts to challenge the adequacy and validity of evidence given by the prosecution party which attempts to prove criminal accusations against an accused person or defendant.
How Criminal Defense Lawyers Help Defendants
Criminal defense attorneys do much more than question witnesses in court. They do everything possible to ensure that their clients are given every protection that’s offered from the state and federal constitutions and laws.
Besides being well-versed in knowing how to use constitutional guarantees for their clients, criminal defense attorneys also gather physical evidence, confessions, statements from witnesses and results from substance abuse tests.
Types of Criminal Defense
One of the main jobs of a criminal defense attorney is determining the type of criminal defense that should be used in a case. There are several types of criminal defense:
- Affirmative criminal defense is when a criminal lawyer and the defendant are able to produce evidence supporting the defense. It often involves having an alibi witness who can show how it’s cannot be possible that a defendant is guilty of committing the alleged crime.
- Coercion and duress, which is also an affirmative criminal defense, states that a defendant was forced into committing a crime because of threats involving unlawful forces.
- Abandonment and withdrawal, or renunciation, is when someone testifies that they had intended to commit a crime or be an accomplice to it, but then changed their mind. Because it’s also considered as an affirmative defense, evidence must be shown, proving that abandonment happened.
- An insanity defense is one in which a defense attorney acknowledges that a client actually committed the crime, but isn’t responsible for his or her actions because of suffering from a mental disorder. However, using this type of defense comes with risks as it means admitting to a crime and can lead to a jury rejecting the insanity defense.
- Self-dense, which entails being forced into committing a crime because of self-preservation, is primarily used in homicide or assault charges. For instance, the defendant states that he or she had to assault or even kill a victim because of being attacked first.
- A statue of limitations defense entails the defense stating that the prosecution has waited too long to charge a defendant, so the charges have to be dropped.
Selecting a Criminal Defense Attorney
When choosing a criminal defense attorney:
- Decide which qualities are the most important ones for your case.
- Check for good communication skills.
- Ask about cases they’ve won or lost.
- Inquire about their negotiating abilities and the specific types of crimes they’ve handled.
- Be cautious of any criminal defense attorney who promises guaranteed results. A good lawyer should be straightforward and realistic, regarding what’s likely to occur.
- Always meet any attorney you’re considering, and don’t fall for advertising catchphrases, such as “aggressive lawyer.”
- If you’ve already consulted an attorney, but don’t have a good feeling about using him or her, you can always change your mind and hire someone else.
Considerations and Warnings
- If you and your attorney use an abandonment and withdrawal defense, the police must have been notified before the crime occurred. Otherwise, it won’t work.
- People who are unable to afford a criminal defense lawyer and are facing criminal offense that could lead to a jail term can have a public defender represent them.
- A defendant using an intoxication defense may work in certain situations, but it usually doesn’t clear a defendant of most types of crimes.
- Provide your attorney with as much information as possible when you have your first consultation.
As our criminal justice system isn’t devised for accused people to represent themselves, it’s much wiser to hire an experienced, well-qualified defense attorney. If you need an experienced, highly-trained and knowledgeable defense attorney to represent you, please contact us.