So you got arrested, now what? Should you hire a criminal lawyer to defend you? While you may think that the punishment is strict and etched in stone, you may also be wrong about what you can do with the help of a criminal defense attorney. If you are facing criminal charges, consider enlisting the help of a legal partner by your side as you defend yourself against the prosecutor’s charges. Not only will you gain protection and advantage over a legal system that can appear stacked against you, but you can also find peace of mind. Knowing that you are doing all you can to improve your chances of getting the best possible resolution of your legal troubles is invaluable. So, find a criminal defense attorney you feel confident will be your best advocate. Here are some of the leading reasons why.
What are the Advantages of Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer in New Jersey?
They Understand the Potential Penalties and Alternative Outcomes in Your Case
An experienced criminal defense lawyer knows that all sentences arise from New Jersey laws. And that criminal laws, traffic laws, municipal ordinances and administrative regulations, and all societal rules come with penalties for breaking them. Aside from knowing the court rules governing the courtroom procedures and the law and penalties established for criminal behavior, they understand the thinking of the judge and prosecutor. More importantly, they understand a sentencing judge has leeway and restrictions in sentencing a convicted defendant. You may not understand the range of the sentencing guidelines a judge chooses from and the factors influencing whether someone gets three years in jail or probation, even Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) for a third degree crime. Many factors influence a criminal sentence.
For example, a judge may consider aggravating or mitigating factors that may increase or decrease the sentence. Intentionally targeting elderly victims of a telephone fraud scheme, for example, can be an aggravating factor. The elderly are more vulnerable, so a judge may consider the heartlessness of preying on vulnerable members of society as an aggravating factor. On the other hand, displays of remorse, like returning the elderly victim’s money voluntarily, may weigh in on a judge’s decision to lighten the sentence. And nearly always, multiple convictions lead to harsher penalties.
They Know the Hidden Consequences that often Come with Convictions
Aside from incarceration and probation, there are a variety of penalties for committing a crime. Imprisonment and fines go hand in hand, but there are also losses of privileges and restrictions on freedoms outside of jail or prison. For example, a drunk driving conviction and other offenses may come with a driver’s license suspension or driving with an ignition interlock device, and most probationary programs require drug and alcohol testing. Some sentences include community service and restitution payments to the victim. But the hidden penalties come long after the sentence term is over. A criminal conviction, or even a traffic violation like a DUI, affects an individual’s ability to obtain specific jobs, college degrees, or professional licenses. Some convictions even restrict a parent’s custody of their children.
They can Examine Police Protocol Before, During, and After Your Arrest
Since a conviction can be a lifetime challenge, you do not want to chance giving up any advantages and rights you may have to a lesser sentence or outright dismissal of your case. You may not know if the police infringed on your constitutional rights, but an attorney does. They see police errors and wrongdoing often enough to know what to look for in your case. If there were police improprieties, for example, a wrongful traffic stop, your attorney understands what to do to bring that to the prosecutor and judge’s attention. They can file the appropriate motion to exclude illegal evidence against you, which may lead to the judge dismissing your case or at least an advantage over the prosecutor. An attorney knows how to do battle with a prosecutor, whose job includes obtaining convictions of those against whom they file charges.
They have First-Hand Experience Handling Prosecutors, Judges, and the Court Process
Whereas an attorney has working relationships with prosecutors, regularly appears before judges, and has frequent interactions with court personnel, you may not understand the roles each plays. No one is your advocate in the legal system except for your defense attorney. Prosecutors represent the state and have no obligation to find ways for you to beat charges or obtain lesser sentences. And judges are arbiters of the law and facts of cases, not advocating for either the state or the defendant. Their job is to ensure the law prevails and that each case resolves appropriately according to the state laws and the interests of justice. Only your attorney can frame your interests in the best light and make a case most favorable to you before a judge and jury. They also know what bends the will of a prosecutor and convinces a judge to give you all available legal benefits.
They can Protect You from Incriminating Yourself
Just telling your story to a police officer, prosecutor, or judge will not get you very far. Rules, procedures, and laws dictate which parts of your story matter and which do not. More importantly, you may not realize that telling your story may have the opposite effect of building sympathy for you. You could unwittingly create a worse situation by admitting what you should not and making the prosecutor’s job easier to prosecute you. An attorney is an advisor as well as a law and procedures expert. They can counsel you on what to say, what not to say, and when to speak in the first place. For example, you should not talk to the police without your attorney present, as you may incriminate yourself without realizing it. You may also be vulnerable to police tactics meant to make you admit to criminal behavior. The following page addresses the Top Things to Know when Police are Arresting or Questioning You.
Get in Touch With a Criminal Lawyer Who Can Be Your Best Advocate
If you have been charged with a crime, contact the experienced criminal lawyers at our dedicated New Jersey defense firm. Criminal law is all we practice, meaning we handle these cases on a daily basis and have spent our careers defending clients in criminal courts throughout Ocean County and the state of New Jersey. Contact the Law Office of William Proetta Criminal Law in Point Pleasant by calling (848) 238-2100 for a free consultation. Talking through your case and your options with a member of our team may be the best decision you make when deciding how to handle your criminal case.