When hiring a defense lawyer, it is important to find the right one to handle your specific case. However, many wonder what a defense lawyer generally does for their clients. First of all, before choosing a lawyer, it is important to make sure they are licensed to practice law in that specific state. Most lawyers specialize in a certain area of law and it is best to choose one that specializes in the practice area in which you require defense. When an attorney has specialized in a specific area of law for the majority of their time in practice, this typically signifies that they have a lot of experience relating to that subject. Their job is to represent their clients in court proceedings and they are supposed to do what they possibly can to get their clients the best outcome. It may not always work in their client’s favor, but attorneys are bound by a code of ethics under licensing laws and must provide their clients with fair and honest representation that works in the best interest of their clients.
Criminal Defense Lawyers
Attorneys that specialize in criminal defense are often self-employed or work for private firms, but can also work for organizations and government agencies. Once a lawyer is hired and retained, they will gather all pertinent details regarding your case and will work on building a strong defense strategy. Their defense strategy should challenge every aspect of the prosecution’s case in order to do what they can to get their client the best final outcome possible under the circumstances, which obviously vary from case to case. There are many different types of cases that criminal defense lawyers can take on such as assault charges, theft and fraud charges, white collar crimes defense, and DUIs, to name a few.
Civil Litigation Defense Lawyers
Civil defense lawyers often work on cases where they defend people listed in a lawsuit. In these types of cases, their clients are being taken to court and sued for a sum of money. The lawyer’s job is in these types of cases is to try and prove that their clients were not liable for the claimed damages. This area of defense covers many different types of cases. For example, divorce law, personal injury law, and mass torts.
Public Defense Lawyers
Lawyers working as public defenders usually work for government agencies and can be specifically appointed to one office like for a county defender’s office. They are retained by these agencies to provide those who cannot afford legal counsel, the right to legal counsel and defense.
Juvenile Defense Lawyers
Juvenile defense lawyers defend people aged between 10 and 17 since they cannot be tried as adults, even if the crimes committed are the same as adult crimes. Sentences and penalties are much different for juveniles and this area of defense law is quite unique because in most cases, defense lawyers who specialize in this area of law are tasked with trying to find rehabilitative solutions for their young clients and hopefully help them avoid incarceration. Defending yourself against a criminal charge is no easy matter. You must understand the elements of the crime that you have been charged with and see what defenses you may have against the various elements. You do not need to defend against all of the elements, as it only takes a reasonable doubt by the jury for one of them. Every case is different, but here are a few of the most common defenses to a criminal charge.
In order to convict you of a criminal charge, the prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a pretty lofty standard, and during any trial the defendant may present a defense in order to raise such a reasonable doubt. Most defenses break down into one of two categories:
• I didn’t do it; or
• I did it, but I shouldn’t be held responsible.
I Didn’t Do It
The most basic defense to any criminal charge is to simply prove that you didn’t do it. When you are defending yourself against a criminal charge, this is probably the easiest defense, because the burden is on the prosecutor to prove each of the elements to the crime. The defendant can just sit back and let the prosecutor do all of the work, but if the defendant has something that proves that they could not have committed the crime, now is the time to speak up.
Innocent Until Proven Guilty
One of the hallmarks of the American legal system is the presumption that you are innocent until proven guilty. This isn’t just an ideal, it’s an actual legal presumption, which means the judge and jury must assume you’re innocent until they are shown otherwise. This is why a defendant can plead the fifth, remain silent, and not offer a shred of evidence to support his or her claim of innocence and still prevail. It is the prosecutor’s job to prove a defendant is guilty, not a defendant’s job to prove that he or she is innocent.
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
The prosecutor must demonstrate to the judge or jury that there is no reasonable doubt of your guilt. If any reasonable doubt can be shown, any at all, then the prosecutor has failed and you should be found innocent. Because this standard is so high, most defendants concentrate on raising some reasonable doubt to the prosecutor’s allegations.
I Have an Alibi
One of the primary ways defendants prove that they didn’t do it is to demonstrate that they couldn’t have done it. An alibi defense is evidence that you were somewhere else, often with someone else, and thus couldn’t have been the perpetrator. By demonstrating to a judge or jury that it is likely that you weren’t present at the crime scene, you are creating a reasonable doubt of your guilt.
I Did It, but Shouldn’t Be Held Responsible
You may have actually committed the act for which you are being charged, but you have some mitigating reason or circumstances that excuse your actions. When defending yourself against a criminal charge in this situation, the burden will be on you to prove why your actions should be excused. You will not be able to sit and wait for the prosecutor to prove their case; you will have to provide evidence of your defense. Here are a few examples of this of defenses for which a criminal act may be excused:
This is a common defense when someone is charged with causing some form of physical violence (assault, battery, etc). The defendant flips the story, and demonstrates that rather than being the aggressor, he or she was actually the victim and was acting to protect themselves from harm. Self-defense is an ancient defense that exists in most legal systems, and is predicated on the belief that people have a right to defend themselves from physical injury. Proving such a defense can be tricky since a defendant will generally have to demonstrate that self-defense was necessary, the belief of physical harm was reasonable, and that the response was reasonable. For example, responding to an assailant’s threat to punch you by shooting them is almost certainly an unreasonable response.
Although it makes for fascinating TV dramas, in real life defendants rarely plead insanity as a defense. Judges and jurors are very skeptical of these claims, and because of the abstract nature of this defense, it can be very difficult to actually prove. The theory behind an insanity defense is the notion that in almost every criminal law, there is a “mental” or “intent” element. Often, the required mental state is that you must have intended to perform the criminal act. If a defendant is precluded from an understanding of what they’re doing because of mental illness, then they can’t possess the mental state that the criminal charge requires. From a policy standpoint, we also tend to think that it would be more appropriate to send someone who is truly insane to psychiatric care, not to prison. Thus, even if a defendant is successful in an insanity defense, they will be sent to a psychiatric institution, not set free. To successfully win an insanity defense, a defendant will rely on testimony from a psychiatrist, and will undergo extensive psychiatric testing which can be painful and humiliating.
Under the Influence Defense
Related to the insanity defense, some defendants defend themselves by claiming that they were under the influence of drugs, and could not have had the mental state necessary to commit the crime. In other words, they were too high to really know what they were doing. Only a few states allow this defense, and even then, it is only a partial defense. At best, it will lower the crime you are convicted of to a lesser crime.
An entrapment defense is appropriate when an official induces you to commit a crime. Common examples of this are prostitution stings or drug sales. The theory is that the government shouldn’t be allowed to push you into committing a crime and then convicting you for it. This defense won’t be successful if the judge or jury believes you were predisposed to committing the crime, however. So even if an undercover officer offered to sell you illegal drugs, if you have a history of drug use, then an entrapment defense isn’t likely to be successful. Defending yourself against a criminal charge has many facets. No one individual can understand the full ramifications of every charge and every defense to a criminal case without a good criminal defense attorney. So if you’re being investigated or charged with a crime, you’d be wise to seek out a local criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Federal, state and local governments enact statutes to criminalize the conduct of particular concern to them. For example, a city may determine that it is a misdemeanor to panhandle, while the federal government decides that it is a federal crime to lie on an immigrant visa application. Some criminal charges have been around for centuries, such as robbery and perjury, while others are added over time. An example is the recent creation of the crime of cyberbullying. Once lawmakers adopt a statute, police officers and prosecutors are responsible for enforcing it. Prosecutors have some leeway in deciding what criminal charges to bring, or whether to pursue the case at all. A prosecution formally begins with either a grand jury indictment or the filing of a criminal complaint. If the jury convicts, judges often follow sentencing guidelines that tell them how much weight to give to factors such as a defendant’s past criminal convictions (if any) in fashioning an appropriate sentence. Even the most well-intentioned prosecutors file charges against innocent suspects occasionally. Regardless of the reason charges were filed, innocent defendants want to know what they—or preferably, their lawyers can do to avoid a conviction.
Intervening Before Charges
Pretrial communication is one of many reasons hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as reasonably possible is your best bet. (That said, you shouldn’t rush into the decision, nor allow a lawyer to pressure you into hiring him or her. Also, you can typically hire a lawyer for initial representation, then, if appropriate, switch to another one later on.) If the facts are suitable, some lawyers will try to intervene before the prosecution even files charges. This might involve contacting the arresting or investigating officer before the case gets to the prosecution, or getting in touch with the prosecutor before the filing decision is made. Particularly in less serious cases, the defense attorney might be able to explain the incident such that the case never sees a courtroom. But defendants shouldn’t get their hopes up too much about this course of action—it often won’t work.
Going for a Dismissal
Oftentimes innocent defendants have to wait until the filing of charges before their lawyers can get involved. But that doesn’t mean that trial is necessarily in the cards. A client meeting with his or her lawyer should give a complete overview of the facts and anything else that might be relevant (for example, the history of the relationship between the defendant and the alleged victim). At that point the lawyer can weigh the options. The lawyer might decide that it’s best to immediately investigate the incident and gather evidence (including witness declarations). With this information, the lawyer might try to persuade the prosecution to dismiss charges. For example, a prosecutor might listen to a defense lawyer who can prove that there’s no way the facts could have unfolded the way an alleged victim or witness claims. Of course, depending on the situation, many lawyers will decide it’s best not to get into too much detail with the prosecution for fear of giving away material in advance of a potential trial.
Letting It Play out
Sometimes the best move for the defense is to do nothing. It can take several months for the prosecution to learn that there’s insufficient evidence to convict the defendant, whether because a witness recants a story or it becomes evident that the witness isn’t credible. (For instance, the witness might have a history of false accusations, or an alleged victim might be actually motivated by a family issue, like child custody.) Other times a case might go away because the defense wins a pretrial motion, like one to suppress illegally seized evidence. Or perhaps (in a felony case), the defense will win the preliminary hearing, and the prosecution will decide not to re-file. There are several in-court proceedings that might bring about the end of a case short of a plea or trial. But the defense’s chances truly depend on the circumstances.
Reasons to Hire a Defense Attorney
If you’ve been accused of a crime, it’s a great idea to hire a professional defense attorney in Utah. You can represent yourself in a courtroom but it’s not advisable because you’ll probably have a higher possibility of facing a jail term. Criminal offense is normally associated with high penalties. Benefits of a criminal defense attorney Utah are valuable because they have enough knowledge about the ins and outs of the legal process. These lawyers strive to excel in your case thus protecting your rights. It’s a good idea to hire a criminal attorney as soon as possible to prevent any mistakes that can jeopardize your criminal case. This clearly shows that a criminal attorney in Utah will assist you from the start of the ordeal to the end. Below are reasons to hire a defense attorney Utah.
• You’ll Save Your Money: A more experienced criminal lawyer will always save a huge amount of money. Their experience and skills will reduce your sentence which will concurrently help you to retain your professional license and keep your job. Representing yourself can lead to the loss of a job as well as a professional license because you’ll probably commit some mistakes. This may cost you a lot because you’ll not have time to perform your day to day time or other beneficial investments.
• Assess Law Enforcement Conduct: An average individual won’t have an actual understanding of the legal limits. Law enforcement can go beyond their limit when obtaining evidence from a criminal case. Experienced criminal defense attorneys have enough knowledge about the nuances of proper procedure. This helps them to identify any loopholes and blind spots in a criminal case thus enhancing your chances of winning the case. Hire a defense attorney as soon as possible so as to prevent police officers from violating your rights. Improper handling of a criminal case investigation can lead to dismissals because the evidence will be thrown away.
• Legal Expertise and Knowledge:The prominent advantage of hiring an expert criminal defense attorney is the expertise needed in a crime scene. Professional lawyers have enough skills in the ins and outs of a legal system. A certified attorney has studied various aspects of the criminal justice system. This helps them handle well all the cases related to their area of specialization. Utah criminal defense lawyers are licensed thus showing how credible they’ll be in dealing professionally with your case. Their knowledge, experience, and expertise help them build a strong case in which concurrently helps you win the case.
• Prevents Heavy Penalties: A professional criminal lawyer in Utah will make sure all your rights are well protected from the beginning to the end. Qualified and experienced criminal attorneys in Utah will always ensure you get the best results possible. There in-depth experience in this field helps you win the case.
• They Catalyze the Process: Hiring a criminal defense lawyer is fundamental because it helps individuals clear their reputation as well as regain their freedom. The right criminal attorney will catalyze the entire process to minimize the chances of law enforcement from obtaining more pieces of evidence. This law expertise will react immediately so as to mitigate the consequences and risks involved in your criminal case.
• Enough Knowledge about Criminal Law System: Reputable criminal defense attorneys in Utah have spent more than five years in this field. They clearly understand the penal law system. During their entire law studies, lawyers gain enough experience and knowledge that plays a vital role in your case. When choosing the right criminal defense lawyer in Utah it’s advisable to select an experienced lawyer with a good reputation so as to get a positive judgment.
• Assess the Variable of a Case: Cases are thrown out or dismissed only if there are incorrect legal procedures during the arrest or during detainment. Qualified criminal attorneys in Utah have enough skills to make sure that law enforcement adheres to all legal procedures and respects the rights of the accused. In a criminal case, there are aspects and variables that must be considered before and during the case.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense, it’s a great idea to hire Utah criminal defense lawyers. These lawyers have enough skills and experience in dealing with criminal cases. This helps them enhance their reputation because they work to satisfy your expectations.
Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer
It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506