Make sure you're prepared to fight for your future
You may have heard that most criminal defendants never have their day in court. Even the most conservative estimates say that over 90% of criminal cases don't make it to trial. So, if you're charged with a crime, it's statistically likely that your case will be resolved before you go before a judge and jury, one way or another.
Given that probability, you might think there's no reason to bother hiring a trial lawyer — or for that matter, any defense lawyer at all. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Here's why you absolutely need an experienced trial lawyer on your side if you've been charged with a crime.
Trial lawyers know the system from start to finish
Even cases that make it to trial aren't always won or lost at trial. There are quite a few steps your attorney can take right after you're arrested or charged with a crime, including:
- Investigating to secure evidence that supports your side of the story and undermines the prosecution's case, including video evidence if available.
- Fighting your driver's license suspension in a Formal Review hearing, which not only gets your driving privileges back but can also produce evidence or highlight inconsistencies in police testimony that support your criminal case.
- Filing a Motion to Suppress illegally obtained evidence, which can weaken the prosecution's case and even get charges dropped if there isn't enough evidence left to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Calling the prosecutor and trying to get them to drop the charges (yes, this actually does sometimes work).
A defense attorney with trial experience knows how these preliminary steps play out at the end of the process. With a trial lawyer on your side, you can take advantage of all your legal rights and put yourself in the best position to win your case.
You need an attorney who can weigh the pros and cons with you
Remember, as a defendant, you have a constitutional right to assistance of counsel. That means your lawyer's job is literally to assist you, not to tell you what to do. While your attorney will manage your overall legal strategy and handle tactical decisions such as making motions or objections, at the end of the day, you decide what you want to do. For instance, it's always the defendant's choice whether to:
- Accept or reject a plea deal
- Have a jury trial or bench trial
- Testify in your own defense at trial
- Pursue or forego an appeal if you're convicted
Your lawyer's job is to advise you of the potential risks and rewards of each decision, but the decision itself is up to you.
For instance, suppose a defendant is deciding whether or not to take a plea bargain. The attorney's job is to advise, in their professional opinion, whether the defendant is likely to win at trial and what potential sentence they could be looking at if they're found guilty. Sometimes, people without lawyers take plea deals that really aren't in their interest — the sentence they get for pleading guilty is not much better than the sentence they would've gotten had they gone to trial and been convicted — because they weren't advised of the pros and cons by an attorney who knew what they were talking about. Anyone can look up the statutes and the sentencing guidelines, but you need trial experience in that jurisdiction to know what the actual outcome is likely to be, especially in cases where the judge has a great deal of discretion in sentencing.
As I tell all my clients, I am always willing to go to trial and fight for a Not Guilty verdict in court, but the decision is ultimately up to you. My job is to make sure you know your legal options and give you a spirited defense that takes advantage of all those options. If you've been arrested or charged with a crime in Polk, Pasco, or Hillsborough County, don't take chances with your future. Get your free consultation today.