5 Benefits of Having a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you face criminal charges in New Jersey, it is imperative that you have legal representation. Here are some of the ways a criminal defense lawyer can benefit your case.
Anyone who has ever been charged with a crime and had to go through the criminal justice system knows just how daunting and overwhelming the experience can be. The reality is that the NJ legal system is not designed to be easy to understand or navigate, which is why most defendants in criminal cases are represented by a criminal defense lawyer. Without a competent attorney on your side and helping you to contest the charges, your freedom and your future could be in serious jeopardy. Whether you have already been charged with a crime, or you are merely being investigated as a suspect in a criminal matter, you need to talk to a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer. There are many advantages to having an attorney on your side throughout the legal process, including better odds that you will beat the charges and stay out of prison. Continue reading to learn more about the benefits of having a criminal defense lawyer handling your case.
Key Advantages of Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
When it comes to fighting criminal charges, there is simply no substitute for having a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side. The following is a list of just some of the advantages of hiring a criminal defense lawyer for your NJ criminal matter:
Number 1: Help You Beat the Charges
The ramifications of a conviction on felony-level criminal charges in NJ could include a lengthy prison sentence, which is just one reason why you should want the best legal representation when defending against the charges. An experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands the New Jersey criminal justice system can often make the difference between winning the case and losing the case. Your lawyer can advise you throughout the legal process, shield you from making incriminating statements to law enforcement, interview witnesses and gather evidence to support your defense in advance of trial, and argue on your behalf at trial if necessary. Even if the prosecution has particularly strong evidence against you, it may be possible for a skilled criminal defense attorney to challenge the evidence and get it thrown out as inadmissible in court.
Beating the charges and winning your case will mean that you avoid the most serious consequences of a conviction, such as prison time, probation, monetary fines, and suspension of your driver’s license, among other penalties. However, there are consequences of a criminal conviction that go beyond the penalties imposed at sentencing. For example, if you lose at trial and are convicted on felony charges, you will have a felony on your criminal record. This is the sort of thing that will haunt you for years to come, and it could make it difficult for you to get a job and/or keep a job in the future. A criminal record can also affect your life in other ways: you may be barred from teaching in public schools if you are a teacher, you might not be able to apply for student loans if you want to attend college, and you might even be prohibited from entering foreign countries due to your criminal history in the United States. Also, if you were convicted or pleaded guilty to sex offense charges, you could be subject to Megan’s Law requirements to register as a convicted sex offender.
Number 2: Keep You Out of Jail
Perhaps the most obvious advantage of having skilled legal representation in your criminal case is that your chances of beating the charges and preserving your freedom will be greatly enhanced. However, the potential benefits of being represented by a criminal defense lawyer are not just felt at the conclusion of the trial if you beat the charges and avoid long-term incarceration. An experienced lawyer can also help you stay out of jail while the case is moving through the legal system. Depending on the circumstances of the case and the degree of your charges, you could be subject to detention while you await trial. If the judge in your criminal matter determines that you pose a danger to society, you could be ordered to remain in detention until your case is resolved at trial – and this may take weeks or even months. An attorney can represent you at the detention hearing and persuasively argue in favor of your being allowed to remain free so that you can support yourself and your family while awaiting your case’s conclusion.
Number 3: Negotiate with the Prosecution
Most criminal matters in New Jersey do not go to trial. That’s because prosecutors may offer plea deals in these cases, with the defendant pleading guilty to an amended or lesser charge in exchange for reduced penalties. The problem for defendants in this position is that they are usually at a disadvantage when it comes to negotiating with prosecutors who have handled hundreds or even thousands of plea negotiations and who are still trying to get maximum penalties imposed against the defendant. Worse yet, prosecutors who see a defendant without legal representation may decide to take advantage of the situation and pressure the defendant to accept a less-than-favorable plea offer. That’s why it is nearly always in the best interests of the defendant to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer negotiating on their behalf.
An attorney who is familiar with the local prosecutors and who understands the strategies used by these prosecutors, such as filing multiple criminal charges in the hopes of increasing their leverage for a plea deal, can put you in a much better position when working out a plea deal that allows you to avoid or reduce jail or prison time and, in some cases, even avoid having a criminal conviction on your record. Additionally, a knowledgeable attorney can ensure that you are fully informed when weighing your options and deciding whether to accept a plea offer from the prosecution.
Number 4: Reduce Your Stress
Beyond the obvious consequences of a criminal charge, such as the risk of prison time and other penalties, there are also less noticeable consequences like mental and emotional stress. It is not always easy to go about your daily life while knowing that criminal charges are pending against you, especially if those charges could damage or destroy your life with a conviction. One of the best ways to put your mind at ease and reduce the stress of facing criminal charges is to have a trusted, knowledgeable attorney handling the legal aspects of your case, which should include filing any necessary legal paperwork, handling all pre-trial motions to potentially get the charges dismissed before trial, and preparing a strong defense in the event that the case reaches trial. Moreover, an attorney can help explain the legal process to you so that you know what to expect and aren’t blindsided by questioning/interrogation from police or legal maneuvers from the prosecution. This should free you to focus on yourself and your family during this difficult time.
Number 5: Save You Costs
Many times, the financial costs of hiring a criminal defense attorney are greatly outweighed by the benefits. In fact, a good attorney can save you money by helping you avoid fines and other expenses that often come with a criminal conviction in New Jersey. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, as well as the particular charges you face, it may be possible for your lawyer to get the charges reduced so that you are not subject to the heaviest fines. This is extremely important because some criminal charges carry potentially devastating financial penalties. For example, if you are convicted or plead guilty to a first degree criminal offense, the judge could order you to pay a fine of up to $200,000 or even more in some cases, such as those involving extreme drug charges. Even a conviction on fourth degree charges, the lowest degree of a felony-level offense in NJ, carries a fine of up to $10,000. Moreover, judges have the ability to impose additional fines in certain types of criminal cases, such as ordering restitution to the victim in a theft case, or imposing fines in drug cases based on the street value of the narcotics seized by law enforcement.
Additionally, an experienced criminal defense attorney can make sure that your case moves through the legal system as quickly as possible by filing the appropriate motions to protect your constitutional right to a speedy trial. This would enable you to keep working and earning money, while your case moves forward. Finally, if and when your case does reach the inside of a courtroom in either Municipal Court or Superior Court, an attorney can potentially help you avoid being incarcerated in county jail or state prison, which would essentially put your life on hold and freeze your ability to earn an income for an extended period of time. Criminal cases can also impact professional licenses, driving privileges, and other things that you need to continue to support yourself financially, making it all the more important to engage a criminal lawyer who will go to bat for you.
Need Criminal Defense Representation?
If you or someone you love is faced with criminal charges, no matter how severe, it is highly advisable to get a free consultation with a dedicated criminal defense attorney. Understanding fully the criminal offenses you’ve been accused of, what is involved in the steps that come next, and all of the avenues that you may be able to pursue to protect your best interests, can go a long way toward benefiting you in your current situation.
We encourage you to contact our local office in Edison, NJ if you would like personalized guidance and assistance for any type of criminal legal matter, including simple assault or aggravated assault, shoplifting, eluding, guns or weapons charges, heroin possession, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. Our defense team refuses to let you be taken advantage of, or swallowed up by the criminal justice system. Contact us at (732) 659-9600 today.