What Does A Criminal Defense Lawyer Do For Me?

A criminal defense attorney can help a defendant understand the long term costs of pleading guilty. This is especially important if the case could result in jail time or a lifetime probation sentence.

Defense attorneys have the experience and training to offer a defendant a reality check during trial. They understand what happens during a trial much better than the defendant and can predict the outcome a jury or judge may give.

1. Preparation

A criminal Seattle defense lawyer has years of experience dealing with prosecutors and can provide you with a reality check on your case. A good criminal lawyer will help you avoid the traps that could lead to a conviction by understanding the prosecution’s story, locating its weak points and preparing counterarguments.

If you are scheduled to testify, your lawyer will prepare you for your direct examination and cross examination. They will also prepare your key witnesses, making sure they can corroborate your version of events. Your attorney will remind you that anything you say can and will be used against you in court including social media posts.

During jury selection, your attorney will question potential jurors in a process called voir dire. The ADA and the defense can both strike jurors for cause as well as use their limited number of peremptory strikes (no reason has to be given). After each side presents its case, they will “rest.” The jury will then begin deliberations.

2. Discovery

A key part of a criminal trial is the discovery phase, which gives your attorney an opportunity to review documents and information related to your case. This includes statements made by witnesses and the accused, photographs or drawings, tapes that the prosecution intends to use at trial, police complaint forms, officer memo books, and other records of police and district attorney activity.

During this discovery process, your lawyer can request facts from the other party through interrogatories, requests for admission and depositions. These tools allow each side to learn more about the case and help them narrow what needs to be proved at trial.

It is important to have a criminal defense attorney with extensive courtroom experience and who has a record of getting not-guilty verdicts in trials for their clients. A lawyer with this expertise can protect your rights during the trial process and in negotiations. It is also important to check with the courthouse about safe and quiet places to wait during lengthy periods of waiting time.

3. Trial Preparation

You may have seen images of an impassioned defense attorney passionately fighting for their client in a courtroom, making opening statements and closing arguments, questioning witnesses, and convincing a jury to their side. However, that is only a small part of the work done to prepare for trial.

This includes analyzing the evidence and documents for weaknesses. Often the volume of documents can be massive, but careful review and the use of specialized software tools allow attorneys to isolate and highlight relevant portions.

This phase also involves preparing witness questions and reviewing them with the witnesses. This helps to avoid confusion or unexpected replies that can damage the case. A seasoned attorney can also anticipate what the opposing lawyer will argue and have counter-arguments ready to defend against them. This is a vital part of thorough trial preparation. During this time, the defense and prosecution will likely meet for a pretrial conference to discuss what witnesses they will call, their evidence, and any settlement options.

4. Testimony

Testimony is a solemn attestation of the truth under oath in front of the Judge and/or Jury. It can be intimidating, but your criminal defense lawyer will help you through the process and support you as you speak under oath.

After the prosecution has presented their case, your defense attorney will question witnesses on what is known as cross examination. The objective of cross-examination is to create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury as to your guilt.

A good criminal defense attorney will argue that the prosecutor’s evidence is unreliable. They may also argue that no crime actually occurred. For example, the attorney might argue that consent by the alleged victim, abandonment or withdrawal from criminal activities, and entrapment were not factors in the crime. They may also argue that the prosecution is violating your Constitutional rights by failing to present all of the relevant facts in their case. The attorney will also have investigators who can find witnesses and other information that could hurt the prosecution’s case.

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