Criminal defendants have the right to be represented by competent attorneys throughout their criminal trials. Many defendants do not realize that they can hire a lawyer even before their right to a lawyer kicks in.
Typically, your right to a lawyer kicks in during your first adversarial hearing. However, you have the right to have a lawyer present earlier when you are being questioned in police custody. You do not have to wait until you are formally charged and a trial is arranged to hire a lawyer. In fact, it is often a good idea to hire a lawyer as soon as you possibly can. An attorney can review your case and help you avoid self-incrimination, assert your rights during investigations, and possibly avoid the imposition of charges altogether. If you wait to hire an attorney, you may be setting yourself up for an uphill battle.
If you have been or will be charged with a criminal offense, you can contact our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers for help and advice. Call us at Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free case evaluation.
Should I Hire an Attorney Before or After I Receive My Charges in Utah?
If possible, you should hire an attorney before you are formally charged. This is not always easy, as many defendants are surprised when they are arrested and charged, and the arraignment is the first time an attorney can come to court on their behalf. Many other defendants might be aware they are under investigation before the police take them into custody. If this sounds like you, call our Ogden criminal defense attorneys as soon as possible.
If you are taken into custody, the police must read you your Miranda rights before subjecting you to custodial interrogation. Among these rights is your right to consult a lawyer while being questioned. You should invoke this right immediately and ask to call an attorney.
Hiring an attorney before you are charged can help you get a head start on your defense. Numerous important steps happen before formal charges are assessed. An attorney can look out for your rights and best interests while gathering evidence and information to build your case.
When is the Best Time to Hire an Attorney for Criminal Charges in Utah?
Ideally, the best time to hire an attorney is as soon as possible. The right time to hire an attorney is often different for different people, but the sooner you can get a lawyer, the better. Hiring a lawyer sooner is usually better because your attorney can handle your case as it happens rather than do damage control after being hired later.
Our Logan criminal defense attorneys can meet with you before you have even been arrested for a crime. It is not unusual for defendants to be aware of pending criminal investigations, especially if they have had a run-in with law enforcement before. Even if you are unsure what kind of charges you might face, an attorney can help you understand how to protect your rights during the investigation and when you are arrested.
If you are unsure whether now is the time to hire an attorney, ask yourself a few important questions. Did somebody report you to the police? Have the police come looking for you at home or work? Have the police questioned any of your friends or family members about your whereabouts? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, call an attorney now.
How Can an Attorney Help Me with my Charges in Utah?
An attorney can help you at each stage of the criminal justice process. Before your trial begins, and even before you are formally charged, your lawyer can help you protect your rights. Your lawyer can prevent you from incriminating yourself during a police interrogation, and they can suppress any evidence the police obtained illegally.
In felony cases and cases of more serious misdemeanors, you will have a preliminary hearing where the prosecutor must prove that enough evidence exists to warrant a trial. At this hearing, your attorney can argue against the prosecutor’s evidence and suggest that there is insufficient evidence for a trial. If successful, your charges might be dismissed. If not, a trial will be scheduled.
If you still want to avoid a trial, your attorney can help you negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor. A plea bargain is a deal between you and the prosecutor where the prosecutors agree to reduce your charges, and you agree to plead guilty. Before accepting any offers, you should discuss any possible plea bargains with our Utah criminal defense attorneys.
If you have a full trial, your attorney can help you select the jury, prepare arguments, and object to evidence that should be kept out. A trial takes time to complete, and the process is often very complex.
If you are unsuccessful at trial and are found guilty, your attorney’s job is still not over. They can file an appeal on your behalf and hopefully get you a new trial. An appeal is when a higher appellate court reviews your case for legal errors. If significant errors are found, you might be given a new trial and a second shot.
What if I Wait to Hire an Attorney Until After I Receive My Charges in Utah?
While you can certainly wait to hire an attorney until you are absolutely sure you need one, you might be setting yourself up with a disadvantage. Hiring an attorney later after you have already been charged means there is no way to go back and protect your rights. For example, you have likely already been arrested and interrogated by the police once you are charged. You might have unnecessarily incriminated yourself without an attorney and made your attorney’s job that much harder.
Even so, our skilled Layton criminal defense attorneys can review everything that happened in your case from before you were charged up to now and use that information to develop the best defense strategies possible.
Call Our Utah Criminal Defense Attorneys for Help
If you are facing criminal charges or believe you might be facing criminal charges very soon, call our Lehi criminal defense attorneys for help. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free case review.