Many people believe that they’ll never be in need of services from criminal law attorneys. Unfortunately, as complex as the legal system is and as unfair as some circumstances can be, even the most upstanding citizens may find themselves in need of criminal representation.
In such a case, if you are being tried by municipal, state, or federal court, the prosecuting attorney will represent the people of the jurisdiction in which you’re being tried. Attempting to represent yourself in a criminal case is a significant mistake that can often result in major fines and jail time.
If you have been accused of a crime, whether you committed it willfully, negligently, or you did not commit it at all, criminal law attorneys can help you determine the best defense for your case. For example, if you did not commit the crime in question, you will need to prove to the judge and/or jury that you are not guilty. You can do this through several means.
Presumption of Innocence
First of all, remember that you are, in fact, innocent until proven guilty. Unless the prosecution can prove your guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt, you should be found not guilty. In some cases, your criminal law attorneys may not present any witnesses and may have you remain silent before arguing that the prosecution has failed to do their job in proving your guilt.
If the prosecution makes a good case for your guilt, your attorney may attempt to show that there is reasonable doubt as to your guilt. The prosecution has a heavy burden of proof and must erase all reasonable doubt. Your criminal law attorneys will emphasize to the jury that they cannot give a guilty verdict based on character or “thinking” that you’ve committed the crime, but that they must see evidence proving guilt.
If your attorney can prove that you were not at the scene of the crime when it was committed, this is called an alibi defense. It not only throws doubt on the prosecution’s case but actually completely negates it.
When the Defendant Committed the Crime But Should Not Be Found Guilty
In some cases, you may have actually committed the crime in question, but you should not be found guilty in a court of law. Extenuating circumstances, such as self-defense, insanity, entrapment, and crimes committed under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, may change a verdict to not guilty or may result in reduced sentencing.
For example, if you are charged with assault and/or battery, you may deserve a not-guilty verdict because you were defending yourself from bodily harm and you were afraid for your life. In this case, your criminal law attorneys will set out to prove that the level of force you used was appropriate for the situation and that you acted only out of self-preservation and not out of malice or with the intent to excessively harm the other person.
In the case of insanity defenses and defenses concerning the use of alcohol and other drugs, your attorney will be arguing that you did not have the mental capacity or function at the time of the crime to be held completely responsible for it. These pleas are ordinarily used to achieve a reduced sentence, not to gain a full not-guilty verdict and not to walk away without any punishment at all.
When to Call Criminal Law Attorneys
If you are charged with a criminal act, whether or not you committed it, you should call criminal law attorneys immediately. Their knowledge and familiarity with the law is absolutely essential to your defense.