Archive for the ‘Default’ Category

Common Criminal Defenses

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021
4 Main Categories of Criminal Defenses | Affordable Criminal Attorney San  Diego

When a defendant goes on trial for allegedly committing a crime, a prosecutor must establish that the defendant is guilty of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. At the same time, the criminal defendant is entitled to present a defense and may do so through a variety of means. The defendant may attempt to poke holes in the prosecutor’s case, argue that another individual committed the crime, or argue that he or she did commit the crime but had a legal and reasonable defense for doing so. There are numerous criminal defenses available that may allow a defendant to avoid punishment for his or her actions.

The Defendant Did not Understand the Significance of the Criminal Actions

Are There Defenses to a Sex Crime Charge? - Hancock Law Firm

One category of defenses available to a criminal defendant is arguing that the defendant cannot be found guilty for the crime because he or she did not understand what he or she was doing or that his or her actions were wrong. At its most severe, this includes the defense of insanity. The defense of insanity requires the defendant to prove, depending on the state in which the case is tried, that either he or she had a mental disorder that rendered him or her incapable of understanding right from wrong, or that it prevented him or her from controlling his or her actions and resisting violent impulses. In some states, the defense of insanity will allow a defendant to avoid prison but will require that the defendant be held in a psychiatric facility for treatment.

Similarly, the defense of intoxication also relies on the theory that the defendant cannot meet all of the elements of the crime because he or she did not understand what he or she was doing. If a defendant is involuntarily intoxicated, this can be a defense to both general and specific intent crimes under the theory that the intoxication prevents the defendant from understanding right and wrong. Voluntary intoxication is also a defense, but only to specific intent crimes when the defendant argues that his or her intoxication prevented him or her from forming the intent necessary for the crime.

Finally, a criminal defendant may be able to argue mistake of law/mistake of fact. Under this defense, the defendant made a fundamental mistake that negates an element of the crime. For instance, a defendant charged with larceny may argue that he mistakenly believed that the victim had given him the property. Similarly, mistake of law applies when a criminal defendant believed his or her actions were lawful. This defense applies in only very limited circumstances.

The Defendant Was Justified in His or Her Actions

Another category of defenses applies when the defendant committed the crime but argues that he or she was justified in doing so. The most commonly recognized of these defenses are self-defense and defense of others. A defendant may argue, for instance, that he did shoot an intruder but did so in self-defense because the intruder was threatening him with a knife. Similarly, under a defense of duress, the criminal defendant argues that he or she only committed the crime because he or she was forced to do so by someone else. For example, a criminal defendant may argue that a co-defendant told him that if he didn’t commit a burglary, the co-defendant would kill him. Finally, under a necessity defense, the criminal defendant may argue that he or she committed the crime in order to prevent a more significant harm. For instance, the defendant may contend that it was necessary for him to steal a car in order to chase down another individual who was threatening to use an explosive device.

No Crime Actually Occurred

law-desktop-wallpaper-60900-62705-hd-wallpapers - Corbitt Law Firm

Finally, a smaller set of defenses may be used to argue that although it appears there was a crime, the defendant did not actually commit a criminal act. First, the defendant may argue that no crime occurred because of the defense of consent. For instance, the defendant may argue that although sexual intercourse occurred, it was not rape because there was consent. Likewise, he may argue that there was no assault because the victim consented to the harm. Second, a criminal defendant can assert the defense of abandonment/withdrawal if he or she initially intended to commit or participate in a crime but later had a change of heart and withdrew from participation. Third, the defendant may argue entrapment. Entrapment occurs when the government induces an individual to commit the crime and then attempts to punish the person for it. The defendant may argue that no crime would have occurred but for the government’s inducement, and he or she should therefore not be held responsible.

5 Things to Consider Before Choosing Your Legal Service Provider

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021
Legal Service Provider Services Market: Competitive Dynamics &

Startups are full of energy and subtle self-confidence to reinvent the wheel. You will try and do everything possible, in-house. While this looks ideal at first look, things don’t quite turn out well always. Especially if you are a startup dealing in food, IT, or logistics and try to get the legal stuff done under a single roof. Right from registering your company to managing books of accounts, they’re a plethora of things to be taken care of in business to stay compliant.

Therefore, choosing a legal partner means you free yourself from all the worries that you are not familiar with.

Here are the top five things you should look for while choosing a legal service provider as a partner. 

1. Comprehensive Range of Services

Choosing a legal partner for your business means they offer almost everything that corporate law envelopes. There are many things that your startup will require once it incorporates into a company. If you have chosen to register a private limited company then you will also need a set of other services to keep things pumping.

This includes getting the licenses required to run the business which means FSSAI for starting a food license in India, trademark registration to protect the brand, or even getting GST registration for your business to abide by the tax compliance. The professional business services to keep your business within the boundaries of law mean an all-around, holistic partner who is no less than a guardian angel.

2. Tailored Packages

As mentioned above, there is a bundle of services that you’d need to stay compliant with. It is best if your legal service provider can custom package those services at discounted rates. This not only saves money but also your time and resources that are otherwise invested to keep a check on compliance. With customized compliance packages, you can get what precisely what you are looking for and that covers what your business requires.

A typical package to register a private limited company in India would look like this:

3. Industry Experience and Customer Reviews

You don’t want to hand over your crucial business responsibilities to a novice. Always trust the professionals having rave customer reviews and especially trust the one who has a satisfaction guarantee policy at the place. This ensures two things – quality service and safety. 

Industry experience is a must. Look for the number of clients your prospective legal partner has served and years since active in the business. What they do the best is best found in their blogs as it reflects that understanding of their business. Also, many of these service providers keep unfiltered rankings to stay transparent which is a good sign indicating their business conduct. 

Since most of the legal services involve working your way out through bureaucracy, choose the one who assures the fastest yet believable turnaround time. You cannot trust the ones who promise to get your business registration done in 5 days as a process from the government’s end itself takes longer. And then you can avoid those who present a long time frame like a month just to keep the buffer time and keep you in darkness. This is something that reflects their expertise in the industry they are dealing in and also a yardstick on which their clients judge them.

4. Expert Guidance

You don’t need a salesperson when talking about legal services. Because it involves complex procedures, precise information, and addressing your concerns honestly. Choose the service provider who has a team of lawyers, Charted Accountants, and Company Secretaries for they are the right person to talk to and raise your compliance-related concerns. Many of these professional service providers in the legal space run a website that helps you place an order and make payment online. 

A hallmark of a successful business is its compliance. And to be so, your startup needs business professionals to be successful. These are LegalTech startups that offer such services online. It is best to get on a call and speak to their representative and ask for their designation. If you find a company routing your query with legalities involved through a call center then ask them to put you up to business professionals like lawyers, etc. Some of your concerns may need expert guidance and it is highly recommended to choose your legal partner wisely.

5. Continuous and Reliable

The key factor in any service is the vendor’s ability to continue within the predetermined time-space while being accountable for the same. Legal partners are the ones who put your compliance on auto-mode as you don’t have to remember the tax filing dates or any other dates required to carry out a procedure for statutory compliance. 

While it is one thing to trust them, they too should be taking some responsibility. This means to keep you informed when anything is done and there is constant communication of any official government updates via email and phone calls. If there is an increase in government fees or a cut in tax rates, then it is their responsibility to loop you in. Another thing is signing an NDA contract as your legal partner is your business vendor too.

This means they may also provide similar services to competitors. Getting an NDA contract does not mean questioning their integrity but also a relief that you bring it to yourself. And since you are sharing confidential business information with legal service professionals, it is best to get this done for the security of both the parties involved.

Conclusion

Law's Emerging Elite: Enterprise Legal Service Providers, Part 1

Business professional services are fundamental for you to keep your focus on performing core business activities. Hire legal consultants online to enjoy doing your business while you keep all the legal worries at bay. Define your requirements and if you are confused, speak to legal experts to better understand the compliance need for your startup.

Is It Important to Look Into Legal Services for My Business?

Monday, August 30th, 2021
Why & When a Business Require Legal Services?- Boost Your Business  Productivity

Business owners will face countless legal concerns, and it’s important to understand what those legal matters are, and how to approach them, with or without a lawyer. However, not all legal services for businesses require a lawyer, which is why it’s a good idea to become familiar with common services your business might need.

Negotiations and Agreements

Depending on the type of business established, legal services might be helpful when it comes time to draft agreements between partners, file articles of incorporation, or articles of organization.

Agreements aren’t just about what’s going on today; they help us plan for the future, too. They outline rights and obligations so that if and when internal disputes occur, everyone has access to the information needed to make the right decision.

Legal services for business also include negotiating for business necessities like office space and vendor services. Moreover, negotiations regarding mergers, acquisitions, or other business relationships are more efficient with qualified legal assistance.

Contracts and Taxes

Lawyers and CPAs work hard to make sure your business runs effectively today, as well as in the future, by predicting problems and staying abreast of legal information that can affect your business.

Contracts and taxes are an important part of your business, and legal services for businesses commonly require expertise in these areas to avoid fees, costly litigation, and other financial penalties that could harm your business.

Sensitive Transitions

Legal services » CrescentCare | New Orleans Health Clinic

Finally, there might come a time when owners of a business are faced with sensitive transitions, like a partner leaving, or dealing with a trust after a death. Legal services for business can make these sensitive legal matters more bearable, as well more efficient for all parties involved.

For example, legal services can help obtain important tax documentation, like EINs for trusts after death. EINs are tax ID numbers used to identify business entities, as well as things like a living trust.

In the event that you must obtain an EIN, legal services for your business can help ease transitions that could impact your business financially or your personal assets.

Finding Free Legal Services

Friday, August 27th, 2021

Depending on your legal issue, you may be able to find help from a government agency or nonprofit organization.

Here are several situations in which you may be able to get an attorney to represent you for free.

If You Face Criminal Charges

If you’ve been charged with a crime and cannot afford to hire your own lawyer, you have a constitutional right to an attorney at government expense. At your request, an attorney, often from a public defender’s office, can be appointed to represent you when you are formally charged in court with a criminal offense. For more information, see Criminal Defense Lawyer FAQ or the Criminal Law Handbook, by Paul Bergman and Sara Berman (Nolo).

If You’ve Been Injured

If you have been injured and wish to sue, a lawyer may agree to represent you on a “contingency fee” basis. While the lawyer’s services won’t be free, you pay the lawyer’s fee only when and if she recovers money for you. The attorney takes an agreed-upon percentage of any recovery as her fee. Be aware, however, that even if a lawyer takes your case on a contingency fee basis, you still have to pay costs, which can add up to several thousand dollars. Costs include court filing fees, court reporters’ fees, expert witnesses, and jury fees. The good news is that if you win your case, the judge will usually order your adversary to pay you back for these costs.

If You Qualify for Legal Aid

If you can’t afford an attorney, you may qualify for legal aid (often called legal services). Legal aid lawyers are usually government-funded lawyers who represent people with low incomes in a variety of legal situations, including eviction defense, denial of unemployment compensation or other benefits, and consumer credit problems.

If you think you might qualify, look in your telephone directory or ask a local attorney or lawyer referral service for the nearest legal aid office. Because of recent cutbacks in federal funding, you will probably find that legal aid is only available for relatively few types of legal problems and that in some programs waits for services can be lengthy.

If Your Claim Involves an Issue of Social Justice

If your dispute involves a social justice issue and has wide implications beyond your individual situation, an attorney or public interest legal organization with an interest in that issue may represent you on a “pro bono” (no fee or reduced fee) basis. For example, if your claim involves sexual harassment by an employer, abuse by a spouse or partner, discrimination in housing or employment, freedom of speech or religion, environmental pollution, or access to medical treatment, you may find an attorney or organization willing to represent you pro bono.

Getting Help

Contact a local bar association or even better, a private organization that deals with the kind of problem you face, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, or the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund (gay and lesbian rights).

Before you meet with a lawyer, you might want to learn some common (and perhaps even not-so-common) legal terms. Get Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary, now available as a free iPhone app (also compatible with iPod touch).

Types of Free Legal Services

Thursday, August 19th, 2021
No Compensation free of charge Legal Services - Rmc Govern Law

Legal services are often thought to be one of the more expensive things a person may need during their life – next to emergency medical care and the costs of buying a home. Fortunately, there are many different places you can turn to for free or low-cost legal services, including free legal services provided by the government, law firms, and even law schools.

Below is a summary of the types of free legal services that may be available in your state.

Public Defenders

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, you may be dreading heading to court, especially if you do not have the resources to afford a lawyer. You may be entitled to obtain legal services without charge, however. Under the United States Constitution, you have the right to free legal services for your criminal trial if you cannot afford an attorney of your own. Often, these attorneys are appointed by a judge from a public defender’s office when you are formally charged with criminal counts. This attorney will be assigned to your case for the duration of your criminal trial, as well as your first appeal if you lose the intial criminal case. To find out more, you can contact your local public defender’s office.

Legal Aid Clinics

If you think that you need to file a lawsuit to protect your interests, but are unable to afford a private lawyer, you may be able to qualify for legal aid, often called legal services. Legal aid organizations and attorneys often receive funds from the government and are normally tasked with taking on cases concerning the poor and impoverished. Because of their limited funding, however, legal aid societies and lawyers can usually only take on a select few cases. The lawsuits that legal aid attorneys normally litigate are ones involving denial of unemployment benefits, social security benefits, consumer credit issues, and eviction and other landlord tenant lawsuits.

Before you begin looking to obtain services from a legal aid organization, you should make sure you qualify. Often times, legal aid organizations only take cases from those who make less than a certain amount of money each year. You can look in the phone book or contact a local bar association in order to get in touch with a legal aid society to see if you may qualify for free legal services. Government funding to these organizations is usually limited, and because of this, they may not be able to take your case, or you may be in for a long wait.

Personal Injury Attorneys on Contingency

Many personal injury attorneys take cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you do not pay anything to the attorney up front and the lawyer only gets paid if you get paid. Contingency fee arrangements are great for those who have winning cases but no real means of paying an hourly fee to an attorney.

The way a contingency fee basis works is that you and your attorney will decide on a percentage amount of the reward that the attorney will get upon a successful lawsuit or settlement. This percentage is often in the neighborhood of 30-40%, but can vary depending upon your state and the laws governing these arrangements where you live. Keep in mind that this percentage does not cover the costs incurred by an attorney, such as filing and court fees. If your case does go to trial, however, and you are successful in your lawsuit, judges often award the costs of the lawsuit in addition to the judgment amount for your injury.

Pro Bono Services

Attorneys working in private practice and in firms often set aside a portion of their time to work on pro bono cases. As with community legal aid clinics, pro bono services typically are offered to individuals whose combined household income is less than 125 percent of the federal poverty level. There are some exceptions to these income limits, which you would need to learn about from each pro bono program.

Social Justice Organizations

Often times you may find an attorney willing to provide free legal services if your case involves some issue of social justice. Social justice issues are easy to spot as they will have implications that extend well beyond the scope of your case and include things like sexual harassment in the workplace or freedom of speech. For example, if you are attempting to sue your landlord for racially discriminating against you, you may be able to find an attorney willing to work for you on a pro bono basis as this case may have a broader influence on the community than just your specific problem.

There are a number of organizations that have legal teams dedicated to providing free legal services on social justice issues, including organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Law School Legal Clinics

Legal Services In Georgia » Company Formation Georgia 2021

You can find free legal services at many law school legal clinics that provide free legal services to low income clients by law students under the supervision of an attorney (usually a clinical professor). Generally, this type of pro bono work is offered in one or more particular areas, including family law, elder law, landlord-tenant issues, health care law, and financial assistance. Moreover, law students can provide a range of legal services including, but not limited to, research and writing, drafting legal documents, client interviews, negotiation, and court preparation.

What You Can Expect from the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer

Thursday, July 29th, 2021

If you’re looking at prison time or a hefty fine, it’s a good idea to look into hiring the best criminal defense lawyer possible. You may have the ability to get a court-appointed lawyer if your income qualifies.

Simply put: the legal system is designed to make competently representing yourself in criminal trials almost impossible. Even if you have an abnormally high IQ, the system does not work in your favor. Hiring an attorney to represent you in your criminal trial is a necessity.

This article discusses:

What Does a Criminal Lawyer Do?

Because no criminal case is exactly like another, criminal defense lawyers are trained to pick out the parts of each case that make them unique.

In essence, they use their knowledge to find subtle evidence and reasons why you should win the case.

Also, the best criminal defense lawyer for you may be able to spot certain arguments and factors that could mitigate or even negate any potential crime. Even if you are guilty and the evidence is against you, they may be able to help you reduce fines and jail time.

Daily Responsibilities of a Criminal Lawyer

The day-to-day of being an attorney might not seem glamorous. Generally, it involves:

  • Contacting clients through email, phone calls, video calls, or in-person meetings
  • Reading case documents, evidence, and statutes (laws)
  • Taking notes on what would be helpful for the case
  • Forming a strategy for the case

While these activities may seem boring, they are the essential building blocks to making a strong case.

Criminal attorneys often spend months preparing for a case. The preparation can take much longer than actually being in the courtroom. This way, when the case goes to court, things can move as quickly as possible, and there are no surprises in the case.

What Specific Work Does a Criminal Lawyer Do That I Can’t Do?

After the research and strategy are done, a criminal defense lawyer has many jobs. While in court, they will call witnesses in your defense and cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses.

They need to be dynamic and trustworthy, explain complex topics to a jury, and be prepared to discuss any aspect of the case. And this is just the beginning of the tasks ahead of them.

Specialties and Duties: Plea Bargains

Your criminal defense attorney may work with you and the prosecutor to negotiate a “plea bargain.”

A plea bargain can reduce your potential sentence or eliminate some of the charges brought against you. However, prosecutors are often unwilling to negotiate with defendants that represent themselves.

Specialties and Duties: Sentencing

Your attorney will figure out a good sentencing program for your situation.

If you’re found guilty, your criminal defense attorney may be able to change your sentence. Often, they are changed in a way that would prevent you from winding back in the criminal justice system.

For instance, instead of going to prison for ten months for a drug possession conviction, your criminal defense attorney may suggest a prison sentence of six months and then four months in a drug treatment facility. This approach aims to help you with the drug problem that landed you in trouble in the first place.

Specialties and Duties: Case Outcomes

As hard as it might be to hear, an attorney has the experience and training to provide you with a reality check.

Defense lawyers know what’s going on much better than you will during your criminal trial. They also can predict how a case is going and what the judge or jury’s outcome may be.

Your defense attorney has the advantage of:

  • Remaining objective throughout a proceeding
  • Offering realistic insights into how the trial is actually going

These assessments and reality checks are often essential when a criminal defendant is trying to decide whether or not to accept a prosecutor’s plea bargain.

Specialties and Duties: Rules and Regulations

You can read books on criminal defense, but it takes years of study to grasp this area of law. Your attorney will point out important legal rules and regulations that you most likely wouldn’t find on your own.

Many rules about criminal prosecutions are buried within regulations and laws, and even prior court decisions.

For example, if you were to represent yourself, you may never know if the search that the police conducted of your apartment was lawful or not. To know this, you must understand the many nuances and intricacies surrounding the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Specialties and Duties: State-Specific People and Systems

Most people will find it hard to navigate their case through the state legal system where the case is being heard.

There are written rules, such as the local rules of court, that must be obeyed and followed. There are also often many “unwritten rules” that go along with each jurisdiction.

For example, let’s say only certain prosecutors can make and approve plea bargains. Your criminal defense lawyer may save you time (and maybe even jail time) by talking to the right person the first time.

Specialties and Duties: Consequences of Pleading Guilty

Your attorney can easily explain some of the “hidden costs” that come along with pleading guilty. Many people that represent themselves never think about the consequences of pleading guilty if it could lead to a shorter sentence.

For example, if you plead guilty, you may find it very hard to find a job once you’ve completed your punishment. An attorney will make sure you understand all your options before you plead.

Specialties and Duties: Handling Witnesses

Your attorney is trained in working with witnesses. They will be able to more easily gather evidence and statements from witnesses that are going to be called by the prosecution. Handling this without experience can be challenging for someone representing themselves.

Many witnesses, understandably so, refuse to give statements or information to people that were allegedly involved in a crime for fear of their own safety. However, these witnesses are often much more willing to talk to an attorney about their upcoming testimony.

Specialties and Duties: Handling Investigators and Experts

Part of the case will require finding and hiring investigators and expert witnesses.

Investigators can investigate not only the alleged crime but also the prosecution’s witnesses. If these investigators can find evidence that would make a witness’s testimony less believable, this could help your case tremendously.

Similarly, expert witnesses may be able to present evidence that would tend to show your innocence. They can also rebut evidence that the prosecution presents, making the prosecution’s case less credible.

Reading Books Can’t Replace Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Some criminal defendants seek to represent themselves by researching and reading books. However, reading books that spell out crimes, punishments, and defenses probably won’t lead you to victory in your case.

As any seasoned lawyer will tell you, there’s quite a vast difference between reading about the law and actually practicing the law in court.

Nothing Replaces Courtroom Experience

Understanding the ebbs and flows of a criminal trial can make the difference between winning and losing your case.

“Prosecutorial discretion” is a prime example of these ebbs and flows. Even the simple decision of what to charge a criminal defendant with can be complex. This can make all the difference in how a case is handled.

For example, what may appear to be a simple crime on paper could realistically be cast to be a multiple count indictment or a simple misdemeanor. Criminal defense lawyers are skilled at negotiating with prosecutors to figure out what counts to charge.

What Does Someone Need to Do to Become a Criminal Lawyer?

Understanding Why You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer

A degree in criminal law requires:

  • A four-year degree from an accredited university
  • Three years of school from an accredited law school
  • A Juris Doctor degree
  • Passing the bar exam in the state they wish to practice in
  • A license to practice from the state

Law students can appear in court while in school if a licensed attorney supervises them.

Many law students will also intern at a law firm before they are hired at a firm. Once hired, attorneys will likely shadow more experienced attorneys to learn the ropes before taking major cases.

Experienced attorneys will have years under their belt in and out of court. Still, newer attorneys are often cheaper to hire. Consider which level of experience better suits your needs.

What Questions Should You Ask a Criminal Lawyer?

Most criminal law attorneys don’t handle every type of criminal case. There is a large difference between defending a DUI and defending a client charged with murder. It is crucial to hire an attorney who has experience in the charges you are facing.

You should also communicate well with the attorney and feel comfortable being honest with them, and the approach they will take in court. Not every attorney is a fit for every client.

You should ask a prospective attorney these types of questions:

  • How long have you practiced law?
  • Have you handled a case like this?
  • What percentage of your time is spent on this specific type of case?
  • Do you focus on a certain area of criminal law?
  • What information do you need/should I prepare for our first meeting?
  • How do you handle fees? (Hourly, on retainer, per case, payment plans, credit cards, etc.)

Get Professional Help From a Criminal Defense Attorney

5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer

As you can see, a good criminal defense lawyer can make your job easier. They can also improve your chances of winning your case or obtaining a more favorable plea bargain.

Even if you qualify for a court-appointed attorney, there’s nothing keeping you from speaking with an experienced attorney to obtain a second opinion on your case. Contact us for more information.

What You Can Expect from the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer

Wednesday, July 14th, 2021

By FindLaw Staff | Reviewed by Bridget Molitor, JD | Last updated May 08, 2020

If you’re looking at prison time or a hefty fine, it’s a good idea to look into hiring the best criminal defense lawyer possible. You may have the ability to get a court-appointed lawyer if your income qualifies.

Simply put: the legal system is designed to make competently representing yourself in criminal trials almost impossible. Even if you have an abnormally high IQ, the system does not work in your favor. Hiring an attorney to represent you in your criminal trial is a necessity.

This article discusses:

What Does a Criminal Lawyer Do?

How to Go About the Process of Hiring a Criminal Lawyer

Because no criminal case is exactly like another, criminal defense lawyers are trained to pick out the parts of each case that make them unique.

In essence, they use their knowledge to find subtle evidence and reasons why you should win the case.

Also, the best criminal defense lawyer for you may be able to spot certain arguments and factors that could mitigate or even negate any potential crime. Even if you are guilty and the evidence is against you, they may be able to help you reduce fines and jail time.

Daily Responsibilities of a Criminal Lawyer

Key Roles and Responsibilities of Criminal Lawyers

The day-to-day of being an attorney might not seem glamorous. Generally, it involves:

  • Contacting clients through email, phone calls, video calls, or in-person meetings
  • Reading case documents, evidence, and statutes (laws)
  • Taking notes on what would be helpful for the case
  • Forming a strategy for the case

While these activities may seem boring, they are the essential building blocks to making a strong case.

Criminal attorneys often spend months preparing for a case. The preparation can take much longer than actually being in the courtroom. This way, when the case goes to court, things can move as quickly as possible, and there are no surprises in the case.

What Specific Work Does a Criminal Lawyer Do That I Can’t Do?

After the research and strategy are done, a criminal defense lawyer has many jobs. While in court, they will call witnesses in your defense and cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses.

They need to be dynamic and trustworthy, explain complex topics to a jury, and be prepared to discuss any aspect of the case. And this is just the beginning of the tasks ahead of them.

Specialties and Duties: Plea Bargains

Your criminal defense attorney may work with you and the prosecutor to negotiate a “plea bargain.”

A plea bargain can reduce your potential sentence or eliminate some of the charges brought against you. However, prosecutors are often unwilling to negotiate with defendants that represent themselves.

Specialties and Duties: Sentencing

Your attorney will figure out a good sentencing program for your situation.

If you’re found guilty, your criminal defense attorney may be able to change your sentence. Often, they are changed in a way that would prevent you from winding back in the criminal justice system.

For instance, instead of going to prison for ten months for a drug possession conviction, your criminal defense attorney may suggest a prison sentence of six months and then four months in a drug treatment facility. This approach aims to help you with the drug problem that landed you in trouble in the first place.

Specialties and Duties: Case Outcomes

As hard as it might be to hear, an attorney has the experience and training to provide you with a reality check.

Defense lawyers know what’s going on much better than you will during your criminal trial. They also can predict how a case is going and what the judge or jury’s outcome may be.

Your defense attorney has the advantage of:

  • Remaining objective throughout a proceeding
  • Offering realistic insights into how the trial is actually going

These assessments and reality checks are often essential when a criminal defendant is trying to decide whether or not to accept a prosecutor’s plea bargain.

Specialties and Duties: Rules and Regulations

You can read books on criminal defense, but it takes years of study to grasp this area of law. Your attorney will point out important legal rules and regulations that you most likely wouldn’t find on your own.

Many rules about criminal prosecutions are buried within regulations and laws, and even prior court decisions.

For example, if you were to represent yourself, you may never know if the search that the police conducted of your apartment was lawful or not. To know this, you must understand the many nuances and intricacies surrounding the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Specialties and Duties: State-Specific People and Systems

Most people will find it hard to navigate their case through the state legal system where the case is being heard.

There are written rules, such as the local rules of court, that must be obeyed and followed. There are also often many “unwritten rules” that go along with each jurisdiction.

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For example, let’s say only certain prosecutors can make and approve plea bargains. Your criminal defense lawyer may save you time (and maybe even jail time) by talking to the right person the first time.

Specialties and Duties: Consequences of Pleading Guilty

Your attorney can easily explain some of the “hidden costs” that come along with pleading guilty. Many people that represent themselves never think about the consequences of pleading guilty if it could lead to a shorter sentence.

For example, if you plead guilty, you may find it very hard to find a job once you’ve completed your punishment. An attorney will make sure you understand all your options before you plead.

Specialties and Duties: Handling Witnesses

Your attorney is trained in working with witnesses. They will be able to more easily gather evidence and statements from witnesses that are going to be called by the prosecution. Handling this without experience can be challenging for someone representing themselves.

Many witnesses, understandably so, refuse to give statements or information to people that were allegedly involved in a crime for fear of their own safety. However, these witnesses are often much more willing to talk to an attorney about their upcoming testimony.

Specialties and Duties: Handling Investigators and Experts

Part of the case will require finding and hiring investigators and expert witnesses.

Investigators can investigate not only the alleged crime but also the prosecution’s witnesses. If these investigators can find evidence that would make a witness’s testimony less believable, this could help your case tremendously.

Similarly, expert witnesses may be able to present evidence that would tend to show your innocence. They can also rebut evidence that the prosecution presents, making the prosecution’s case less credible.

Reading Books Can’t Replace Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Some criminal defendants seek to represent themselves by researching and reading books. However, reading books that spell out crimes, punishments, and defenses probably won’t lead you to victory in your case.

As any seasoned lawyer will tell you, there’s quite a vast difference between reading about the law and actually practicing the law in court.

Nothing Replaces Courtroom Experience

Understanding the ebbs and flows of a criminal trial can make the difference between winning and losing your case.

“Prosecutorial discretion” is a prime example of these ebbs and flows. Even the simple decision of what to charge a criminal defendant with can be complex. This can make all the difference in how a case is handled.

For example, what may appear to be a simple crime on paper could realistically be cast to be a multiple count indictment or a simple misdemeanor. Criminal defense lawyers are skilled at negotiating with prosecutors to figure out what counts to charge.

What Does Someone Need to Do to Become a Criminal Lawyer?

A degree in criminal law requires:

  • A four-year degree from an accredited university
  • Three years of school from an accredited law school
  • A Juris Doctor degree
  • Passing the bar exam in the state they wish to practice in
  • A license to practice from the state

Law students can appear in court while in school if a licensed attorney supervises them.

Many law students will also intern at a law firm before they are hired at a firm. Once hired, attorneys will likely shadow more experienced attorneys to learn the ropes before taking major cases.

Experienced attorneys will have years under their belt in and out of court. Still, newer attorneys are often cheaper to hire. Consider which level of experience better suits your needs.

What Questions Should You Ask a Criminal Lawyer?

Most criminal law attorneys don’t handle every type of criminal case. There is a large difference between defending a DUI and defending a client charged with murder. It is crucial to hire an attorney who has experience in the charges you are facing.

You should also communicate well with the attorney and feel comfortable being honest with them, and the approach they will take in court. Not every attorney is a fit for every client.

You should ask a prospective attorney these types of questions:

  • How long have you practiced law?
  • Have you handled a case like this?
  • What percentage of your time is spent on this specific type of case?
  • Do you focus on a certain area of criminal law?
  • What information do you need/should I prepare for our first meeting?
  • How do you handle fees? (Hourly, on retainer, per case, payment plans, credit cards, etc.)

Get Professional Help From a Criminal Defense Attorney

As you can see, a good criminal defense lawyer can make your job easier. They can also improve your chances of winning your case or obtaining a more favorable plea bargain.

Even if you qualify for a court-appointed attorney, there’s nothing keeping you from speaking with an experienced attorney to obtain a second opinion on your case.

If you’re really set on representing yourself in court, you should, at the very least, retain the best criminal defense lawyer possible to act as a coach during your trial.

You can find an experienced criminal defense attorney near you and start by reading reviews and testimonials or having a free phone consultation to ask questions about your case.

Getting an Attorney to Handle Your Criminal Case

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

Within the complex criminal justice system, a defense attorney serves as the defendant’s guide, protector, and confidant. (At least that’s how it’s supposed to be.) Defense attorneys are usually grouped in two camps: court-appointed attorneys paid by the government and private attorneys paid by the defendant.

Some criminal defendants can afford to hire a private criminal defense attorney. For those who cannot afford an attorney (approximately eighty percent of all criminal defendants), the court may appoint counsel to represent the defendant (assuming certain qualifications are met). These court-appointed attorneys are either public defenders who are on government salary, or they are so-called “panel attorneys,” local attorneys chosen from a panel. A small fraction of criminal defendants (approximately two percent) represent themselves and are referred to as “pro se” or “pro per” defendants.

What Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Do?

Criminal defense attorneys (private and court-appointed) research the facts, investigate the case against their clients, and try to negotiate deals with their adversaries (prosecutors). These deals might include reduced bail, reduced charges, and reduced sentences. Because of a number of factors—political and public pressure, overcrowded jails, overloaded court calendars—deal-making has grown in importance and has become an essential element in unclogging the criminal justice system.

Criminal defense attorneys also examine witnesses, help formulate a plea, analyze the prosecutor’s case, assess the potential sentences (and the likelihood of a particular judge awarding such a sentence), review search and seizure procedures, question witnesses, and gather evidence. Defense counsel can also advise on potential immigration consequences or other consequences of a plea, conviction, or criminal record.

Defense counsel also provide more personal services by giving the defendant a reality check as to the possible outcomes and by helping the defendant to deal with the frustrations and fears resulting from being thrown into the criminal justice system. And of course, if no plea deal can be made, the defense lawyer represents the defendant at trial.

Cost of Legal Representation

A huge factor when it comes to legal representation is the defendant’s financial status and whether the defendant can afford private counsel.

Private criminal defense attorneys charge either on an hourly basis (expect to pay $150 an hour or higher) or by a fixed or set fee. They are prohibited from charging contingency fees, which are payments that depend on the outcome of the case. If the defendant is indigent (cannot afford private counsel), the court may appoint a government-paid public defender or panel attorney.

Some—but not many—folks have enough money so that paying for a lawyer isn’t a financial strain. But arranging for legal representation often isn’t as straightforward for those who fall in between these groups of people.

The bottom line for judges is that the right to free (government-paid) defense counsel generally kicks in whenever an indigent defendant faces a jail or prison sentence. If there is no possibility of incarceration—for example, a judge states on the record that she will not sentence the defendant to jail time—then the defendant might not be entitled to free counsel (depending on state law).

Note that the right to free representation does not mean a right to the lawyer of choice. A defendant who’s been appointed counsel normally doesn’t get to pick and choose in the way that a paying defendant does.

Is a Private Attorney Better Than a Court-Appointed Attorney?

Defendants sometimes believe that private attorneys possess a distinct advantage over the overworked public defender’s office or panel attorneys who are paid a minimum fee. But do private attorneys provide better representation than court-appointed government-paid defense counsel?

Many private attorneys are former prosecutors or public defenders. Based on studies that evaluate the outcomes of having a private versus court-appointed attorney, data seems to indicate that the results for defendants are often the same. For example, one study indicated that defendants represented by private counsel and public defenders fared similarly in conviction rates and sentencing (although those represented by panel attorneys fared worse). Such statistical evidence is not always reliable or clear because of complicating factors. For instance, clients represented by private counsel often have short or no prior criminal records, while indigent defendants are twice as likely to be repeat offenders. What is also unclear—and what creates one of the biggest uncertainties of the criminal justice system—is whether private attorneys can negotiate better plea deals than court-appointed counsel.

Ultimately, the experience, skills, and commitment of the particular attorney at hand—regardless of whether he or she is a public defender, panel attorney, or private lawyer—are the best indicator of the quality of the representation.

Self-Representation (Pro se)

What is clear is that being represented by a lawyer is almost always the best option. Nevertheless, some criminal defendants represent themselves. The decision of whether a defendant can self-represent is ultimately made by the judge, not the defendant. The judge is required to determine the defendant’s competency. That’s because a defendant who cannot provide a competent defense cannot get a fair shake, even if the defendant is adamant about not accepting the services of a court-appointed attorney. When determining whether a defendant can go pro se, a judge will consider factors such as:

  • the seriousness of the crime
  • the defendant’s language skills and education
  • whether the defendant understands the nature of the proceedings, and
  • whether the defendant is knowingly giving up his right to counsel.

Finding an Attorney

When looking for a private defense attorney, look for an attorney who specializes in criminal defense and practices in the jurisdiction (city or county) where charges are pending. A local attorney will be familiar with the judges and prosecutors in that area. Learn more in our article on what to look for in a private criminal defense attorney. You can also find more information on our home page, www.criminaldefenselawyer.com.

If you don’t have the financial resources to pay for an attorney, you will typically need to ask for court-appointed counsel (before or at one of your first court hearings) and fill our paperwork on your financial resources. Learn more in our article on public defender representation.

The city of Reno, Washoe Legal Services host Renters’ Rights seminars

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021

by Zac Slotemaker, Jordan Hicks

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Volume 90% <p>Over the next few weeks, the City of Reno will assist Washoe Legal Services is hosting three public seminars on renters’ rights.

RENO, Nev. (News 4 & Fox 11) — Over the next few weeks, the City of Reno will assist Washoe Legal Services is hosting three public seminars on renters’ rights.

Monday evening, Washoe Legal Services discussed the first of the three meetings, Bedbugs and Code Enforcement.

During these seminars, the community is invited to learn about the rights and protections that tenants have against such issues as unsanitary housing conditions and illegal evictions, and how renters may seal prior eviction records.

The meetings will be held on October 14, and October 21 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Reno City Council Chamber, located at 1 East First Street.

According to Washoe County Health District, apartments are different from facilities in the county. Apartments are not required to be licensed by the health district.

However, the landlords are subject to the City of Reno Code Enforcement citations if, after investigating a claim, they are in clear violation.

Reno City Councilmember Oscar Delgado says this is why it is crucial to know what your rights and what you are able to do as a tenant:

It is vital, especially this day and age when you know that people, in many different ways are being taken advantage of. They are paying astronomical amounts in terms of rent monthly, we want to make sure they are paying for a decent house. That is very important for us at the city council especially for our mayor. Making sure we are working with those landlords but also calling out the slumlords.

To involve the City of Reno’s Code Enforcement you can call 334-INFO.

There are two types of considerations for apartment conditions: essential services and habitability.

Essential services are considered anything that creates an emergency such as no water, no heat in winter, and a clear safety hazard.

Habitability problems include bed bugs, any kind of infestation, leaks, molds, or anything that is non-emergency by not livable.

According to Code Enforcement Manager, Alec Woodley, they are quicker to investigate essential service problems than habitability problems.

Either way, the city does have the power to enforce proper conditions if found in violation.

According to Woodley,

We have multiple tools in the toolshed. We have the ability to issue civil citations, we have the ability to place leans on a property and if necessary, very seldom is the case but we, unfortunately, do it twice a year, we do pursue criminal charges against a landlord if necessary.

City of Reno, nonprofit help renters learn rights

In addition to filing a claim with the city, Washoe Legal Services also recommends going a civil route by sending a formal letter to your landlord.

If your landlord does not fix the essential or habitability problem, you can do two things after sending a notice that requires 14 days for the problem to be fixed under NRS 118A.

One, you can personally repair the problem and then provide proof of the repair cost to deduct it from next month’s rent.

Two, you can either terminate the rental agreement, sue to recover damages, seek help in the courts, and withhold rent.

For a full look at FAQs surrounding tenant and renter problems, click here.

The schedule and topics of discussion for the three seminars are as follows:

  • October 7: Bedbugs and Code Enforcement
  • October 14: Eviction Rules and Procedures
  • October 21: Eviction Sealing

A Spanish language translator will be available, and the seminars will be live-streamed on the City of Reno’s Facebook page.