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When to Hire a Criminal Lawyer

June 30, 2017

The American justice system hinges on two legal concepts: criminal and civil law. Criminal law generally focuses on offenses committed against the state and society while civil law focuses on legal disputes between individuals or legally acknowledged entities. In addition, most criminal offenses attract jail time while civil cases mostly result in financial penalties or non-custodial restrictions.

With that in mind, here are some legal situations that might require you to hire a criminal lawyer:

Involved in a Criminal Lawsuit

If you are party to a criminal lawsuit, you should hire a lawyer with in-depth knowledge of this legal niche to ensure that you receive the best advice and representation in court.

Moreover, criminal cases can be tricky because they allow for trial by jury in cases where the defendant is facing at least six months’ imprisonment. This means you should consult a legal expert who is well-versed in trial by jury law.

For instance, most states do not allow minors involved in juvenile delinquency cases to undergo trial by jury. While trial by jury acts as a check against unfettered prosecutorial power, its opponents say jurors are prone to distraction and could be swayed by public pressure leading to unfair judgments.

The severity of criminal penalties also means it is unwise to proceed without solid legal backing. It is also worth noting that it is not necessarily the responsibility of criminal case victims to pursue legal recourse because the government can assume the prosecutorial burden.

Personal Rights Infringement

Regardless of the crime, defendants in criminal cases are afforded certain inalienable rights. For example, law enforcement authorities cannot subject defendants to illegal searches or seizures. This means a competent criminal lawyer can seek to recover personal effects seized illegally. Remember, personal items/effects seized by law enforcement officers could be used as evidence in a criminal case.

Thanks to unprecedented democratic freedoms, American citizens and residents enjoy legal protections that are enforceable at state and local levels. In addition, data privacy laws applicable at both state and local levels have forbidden law enforcement officers from introducing evidence gathered via illegal electronic surveillance.

Unfortunately, these personal rights protections translate to numerous regulatory frameworks that legal novices would struggle to comprehend and apply.

Facing Civil and Criminal Cases

In some cases, a criminal case could lead to a civil trial. A good example is the O.J. Simpson trial, which involved a murder case (criminal case) and a wrongful death case (civil case).

In such a situation, it is best to hire a criminal lawyer and a civil litigation attorney. While this strategy is bound to be expensive, the knowledge each attorney will contribute could make the difference between freedom and spending years in jail and paying enormous fines.

What’s more, a criminal case could be filed in a different jurisdiction from the one where a civil case has been filed, thereby causing logistical challenges. Finally, the interpretation of cross-jurisdictional regulations often requires domain expertise.

Need Help with the Criminal Case Processes

When filing a criminal lawsuit, you must satisfy certain legal provisions that vary depending on the nature of the crime and jurisdictional boundaries. The process of instituting a criminal case starts when a criminal allegation is reported to the police or other law enforcement agencies. Where necessary, the allegations are forwarded to the local U.S. attorney’s office for further investigation and evaluation, which is usually carried out in close coordination with law enforcement agencies.

This arrangement means the government has the burden of proving that the defendant committed a crime. In the same vein, the government must produce evidence that can convince a jury that a crime took place.

Besides this, criminal cases normally involve a pre-trial where the presiding judge reviews investigation reports, the evidence collected so far, and the viability of trial by jury and advises the defendant on the legal ramifications of the charges filed. More importantly, the presiding judge determines whether the defendant should remain in jail or be set free while awaiting trial.

Even if a defendant remains free, he or she may be subject to drug testing or electronic monitoring. These processes are governed by different sets of regulations, meaning legal help is necessary.

Need to Get a Loved One Out of Jail

If a loved one has been arrested on criminal charges, hiring an experienced criminal attorney to liaise with law enforcement agencies and handle the bail process is advisable. Your lawyer will also ensure that your loved one is not held beyond the legally mandated period.

It is worth noting that police officers must have probable cause to arrest an alleged offender. Probable cause refers to reasonable belief that a specific individual or organization committed an alleged crime.

If the offender is still at the crime scene, law enforcers have the duty of making an arrest immediately. On the other hand, police officers must seek an arrest warrant from a court of law if the offender has already fled the crime scene.

Without the help of a qualified and experienced criminal attorney, you may not be able to get your loved one out of jail.

Rebutting Criminal Charges

The primary duties of a criminal lawyer include evaluating the charges filed, investigating the alleged criminal incident, and preparing a robust defense that can withstand legal probing in open court.

In some cases, criminal attorneys seek lesser penalties than those the prosecution is seeking. Legal experts call less serious crimes misdemeanors. These often include petty theft, possession of small amounts of illegal drugs, and first-time drunk driving offenses.

With this in mind, rebutting criminal charges requires legal expertise for several reasons. For instance, penalties for criminal charges vary depending on the severity. Punishments for misdemeanors are minimal compared to penalties for offenses like attempted murder. That’s why the lawyer handling your case must be highly knowledgeable in the applicable regulations.

Expungement of Criminal Records

In the legal sphere, expungement refers to the court-ordered process of sealing criminal records in accordance with the regulations enacted at the national and state levels. This is important because employers, landlords, and even individuals may be unwilling to hire or associate with people who have criminal records.

Most states allow expungement of criminal records related to juvenile offenses and misdemeanors. Since this is a legal process, the rule of thumb is to hire a competent criminal lawyer to represent you. After expungement, your criminal history cannot be disclosed to your significant other, potential employers, or landlord. It is important to note that expungements do not apply when undergoing government security clearances, meaning you may be unable to work for government bodies.

Additionally, expunged criminal records could be opened under “legally extraordinary circumstances.” Your lawyer will educate you on the pros and cons of seeking an expungement.

Challenging Polygraph Tests

Although Hollywood portrays polygraph tests as infallible, the opposite is true. In fact, very few suspects or witnesses in criminal cases are subjected to polygraph tests. At the same time, polygraph-based evidence is virtually inadmissible in criminal cases throughout the U.S. There are various reasons why this is so.

A lie detector does not have the capability of detecting or telling the absolute truth. It only measures certain physiological events, such as elevated heart rate, and then indicates the possibility of truth or lying based on known human behaviors and physical reactions. Unfortunately, factors like nervousness and fake shivering could cause false positives in response to questions.

Furthermore, lie detectors are electronic devices that could fail due to component breakage, power issues, and incorrect usage.

A competent criminal lawyer can challenge the introduction of polygraph tests. Tests involving remote observation and evaluation of a defendant’s behavior using digital devices such as hidden cameras can be challenged, too. The most effective way of doing so is by hiring a criminal attorney.

Your Best First Move

If you or your loved has been charged with a crime, you should immediately hire a good criminal lawyer with Clark & Clark. Legal representation at this level covers infringement of personal rights, bail processing, criminal record expungement, rebutting criminal charges, and challenging polygraph tests.

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