Criminal Defense Lawyers in Las Vegas Protecting Your Future
Something happened, and now you’re talking to the police and feel like you might be a suspect. Or maybe your vehicle was searched as part of a routine traffic stop, and now you’re facing criminal charges. Whatever the situation, we believe that everyone is entitled to a strong defense, and we work to provide each and every client with the right strategy for their situation and practical, effective counsel. Keep reading to learn more about what happens when you’re charged with a crime, what criminal defense lawyers do, and what makes our firm different.
If you’re looking for a criminal defense law firm, our Las Vegas criminal lawyers can help. The attorneys at Benjamin Durham Law Firm are seasoned criminal defense attorneys and are prepared to help you defend yourself, from the initial plea all the way to trial if necessary.
What Happens When You Are Charged With a Crime?
Facing criminal charges is not pleasant, and it’s normal to be worried about what might happen and confused about the process. As soon as you know that you are suspected of a crime or have been arrested, you should contact a criminal defense attorney. The sooner an attorney is involved in your case, the more they can help you. Below, we’ve provided an outline of the basic process for being charged with a crime.
The Police Gather Evidence
In order to be someone to be charged with a crime, there has to be enough evidence. This doesn’t mean that the police need irrefutable evidence or that the case has to be airtight before an arrest can be made, but it does mean that the police can’t just arrest and detain you on charges before they have reasonable evidence.
This is a crucial timeline where it’s beneficial to have an attorney already if you’re aware of the investigation. Many people wait to hire an attorney until they are charged but having a lawyer with you while the investigation is ongoing means that they can provide you with counsel on how to cooperate with the police and can be with you when you are questioned.
You Are Formally Arrested
Once the officers and prosecutors believe that they have enough evidence to pursue the case through the courts, the defendant is formally arrested. You may have the option of turning yourself in instead of facing a public arrest. If you already have a criminal defense attorney, they can often help facilitate the process of turning yourself in and can sometimes help you arrange bail so that you don’t have to spend any time in jail waiting for your hearing date.
You Enter a Plea
After your arrest, the first step is to enter an initial plea. Most people plead not guilty at this stage, but it is possible to change your plea later on if your attorney negotiates a deal. After you enter your plea, you will be given an initial hearing date. This is to get the case onto the court docket and start moving it through the legal system. Your attorney can help you understand how to prepare for your hearing. It’s important to note that hearings are often postponed – called a continuance – and your lawyer can let you know if this happens and what it means for your case.
There May Be Negotiations on the Charge or Sentencing
Once you’ve been charged and entered a plea, this is usually when plea negotiations happen. Your attorney must inform you of any plea deals that the prosecutor offers so that you can be aware of your options and be an active participant in your defense. However, a plea isn’t always the right choice, and sometimes, it’s just not the right deal yet. Plea deals are negotiations that can go back and forth between the attorneys a few times before there is a deal that works for both sides.
If you are interested in a plea deal, you can talk to your attorney about what would be a “good” deal in your eyes. Your attorney can help you understand if that’s realistic and what the other options may be. If you decide to take a plea, you will enter that plea, and the judge usually agrees and moves the case forward. However, it is possible in rare instances for a judge to reject a plea deal. If you decide not to take a plea, the case moves forward to trial.
The Case Goes to Trial
The trial process is lengthy and complicated, but in general, both sides will get to present their arguments and get a chance to oppose the other side’s argument. Trials can be before just a judge if the defendant wishes or can be done before a full jury. If you decide to go forward to trial, it’s important to have an attorney who is an experienced litigator and has a strong track record of success at trial. It’s also important to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for the long and arduous process of trial.
Why Do I Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
If you’ve ever watched a crime show on TV, you know that someone asking for a Las Vegas injury lawyer stops all of the questioning and puts everything on hold. While this isn’t exactly always the case in real life, you do have the right to have a criminal defense attorney. Here are just a few of the ways criminal lawyers help in criminal cases.
Ensure You Understand Your Charges
Being arrested can be a confusing and sometimes chaotic process, and while you have the right to know what you are being charged with, sometimes the technical terms for criminal charges can be difficult to understand. This is one aspect your attorney can provide help with. They can go over the charges and explain them, including what they are, whether they are felony or misdemeanor charges, and what the degree means. The better you understand your charges – and the possible associated penalties – the more prepared you will be to help your attorney defend you.
Make Sure the Charges Are Legitimate
When you hire an attorney to take your case, one of the first things they do is make sure the charges are legitimate. In most cases, the prosecutor won’t want to bring charges against you unless there is enough evidence that makes them think they can win the case, but this doesn’t mean that every charge is legitimate. For example, if you are charged with possession of a controlled substance but the substance was found through illegal search and seizure methods, the charges may be able to be thrown out. There are specific rules and procedures for how evidence must be obtained. Criminal defense attorneys have extensive knowledge of these procedures and can help identify issues in your case that may lead to the dismissal of charges or help you defend against the charges in a trial.
Help You Understand Your Options
Once you and your attorney have had time to discuss the particulars of your case and the charges, it’s time to talk about defense strategy. Good criminal lawyers will be able to explain all of the different options available, the pros and cons of each, and how they may or may not apply to your specific case. There are a few main options when it comes to defense:
● Have the charges dismissed
● Negotiate a plea deal for a lesser charge
● Plead guilty to the original charges
● Enter a plea of not guilty or no contest, which means you will move forward to trial
However, within most of these basic options, there are several paths you can take. For example, in a plea deal, you may be able to negotiate the charge itself and/or the penalties. You could agree to plead to a lesser charge – and usually lesser penalties – but you could also agree to plead guilty to the original charges, but in exchange, the prosecutor agrees to ask for the minimum sentence. If the case goes to trial, there are several defense options, such as lack of evidence, getting evidence suppressed, claiming self-defense, showing that there is reasonable doubt of your guilt, and even claiming mental incompetence.
Your criminal defense strategy is one of the most – if not the most – important parts of your case, and it’s something that you will discuss at length with your attorney. It’s also important to keep in mind that the legal system can be unpredictable and that your defense strategy may have to adapt or change as the case proceeds.
Advocate for Your Rights and Interests
As soon as you hire a criminal lawyer, you can know that there is at least one person who is wholly dedicated to advocating for your rights and interests. This is important because the criminal justice system is largely stacked against defendants, even though we operate under the “innocent until proven guilty” idea in the United States.
The courts are confusing, and everything has to be done exactly as it’s supposed to be, which automatically puts defendants not familiar with the legal system at a disadvantage. The prosecution will certainly not be looking out for your interests, as they are solely representing the interests of the state and the alleged victims. And while judges are to remain impartial and act in accordance with the letter of the law, this doesn’t always happen in practice.
Your defense attorney is a critical ally throughout your case, and it’s important to remember that you work together as a team to try to get the best possible outcome for your specific situation and charges.
Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help Me Negotiate a Plea?
Yes, a criminal defense attorney can be a huge asset if and when it comes time to negotiate a plea deal. They can help you understand the difference between the penalties you may face if convicted compared to what the prosecutor is offering with the plea, and they can even negotiate to get you an even better deal potentially.
However, a plea deal isn’t always the right option. Depending on the criminal charges you’re facing, the evidence the prosecution has, and other factors such as past criminal history, your attorney may recommend going to trial instead. It’s important to have an open and honest conversation with your lawyer about the case against you when you are determining what defense strategy you want to move forward with.
How Are the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Benjamin Durham Law Firm in Las Vegas Different?
At Benjamin Durham Law Firm, we know that having an experienced criminal defense attorney representing you can make a big difference in your case. Our attorneys work to ensure that you have all of the information you need to be able to be a proactive and integral part of your defense tense. We advocate for your rights and interests, and we fight for your rights against the Clark County prosecution team.
If you are facing criminal charges, contact our criminal defense attorneys in Las Vegas, NV. You can call our office at (702) 631-6111 to set up an appointment with our team, discuss your case, and find out how we can help you navigate the court system and protect your rights.