Why Law Firms Should Consider A Live Phone Answering Service

A law firm is one of the busiest offices in the modern world. Magistrates and attorneys live busy lives from the courthouse to meeting new clients and serving their clients. For lawyers, an ordinary workday is full of many appointments, research on cases, and writing briefs.

By the end of the day, most lawyers are exhausted, leaving very little time for sleep, family and hobbies. However, a law firm could incorporate a third party to handle some critical tasks in the office. With the assistance of a third person, lawyers get time to concentrate fully on their work.

Attorney answering services are phone services provided by somebody else other than the attorney. These services can include calls, appointment setting, advocating the attorney to potential clients, and document filing.

These services can be divided into two, depending on how they are offered. The first type involves hiring a receptionist or an attorney in training. The second one includes an automated system, also known as live phone answering services for lawyers. Live phone services are automated mobile phone services that use either another company or application software.

Significant Differences Between Receptionists And Automated Phone Services

 Hiring a receptionist into the law firm ensures that

• Visitors at the firm receive the best possible customer service and privilege they deserve.
• All incoming and outgoing calls are responded to professionally.
• Meetings and appointments are set on time.
• All the documents required during hearings are available when needed.

On the other hand, an automated system performs beyond the receptionist, and all through, the system’s programming is not overwhelmed by calls and messages. It can register all the calls and messages each separately and responds accordingly. All the responses by an automated system are connected to the attorney immediately without further need for briefing.

How Relevant Is The Automated Phone Answering Service, And Is It Essential?

No matter the effectiveness of the automated services, a lawyer should first seek whether they are necessary. In case of missed calls and appointments, the services are rendered relevant. Most clients expect their lawyers to be always available for inquiries and communication. When a lawyer is not available during calls, it drives clients away for the lawyer. The client does not consider whether it’s a weekend, holiday, or an important family event.

The cancellation of appointments or failure of clients to show up for scheduled appointments affects the schedule. The incidences are mostly attributed to miscommunication between the client and their attorney. Hence this is a primary reason that will make an attorney opt for live phone answering services.

The lawyer receiving most calls during off-hours should see a reason for automated services. A lawyer who opts to spend his after-hours privately can consider partnerships with automated phone services. An attorney with many phone calls at once should also consider hiring automated services.

Another factor that may render an attorney to consider hiring automated services is the need to improve his client outreach. The most relevant service, in this case, is a legal service that offers outbound calls. The finding of new clients for an attorney or firm is crucial for the firm’s growth.

The automated phone services could be hired in addition to the receptionist. Including automated services for an attorney renders the adequate receptionist time to handle other matters.

Negative Implications Of Hiring A Bad Answering Service

The voice of a phone answering service is the voice of the attorney to clients. A bad company will damage the reputation of the attorney to his clients. Some companies offering live phone services allow attorneys some trial period before signing partnerships.

The status created by a corrupt system could harm the attorney for many years, even after hiring a good company. The attorneys’ reputation is their livelihood and investment; hence should always be protected.

The cost of hiring a virtual receptionist may be cheaper compared to a full time, in-house receptionist. Automated phone services charge their client by the minute. However, different companies charge to the highest minute. Charges to the most top minute mean a call for a minute and a half is rendered as two minutes.

Other companies charge per minute to the next sixth second; this way, a request for a minute and eight seconds is considered one minute twelve seconds. Before signing partnerships or contracts with automated service providers, these should be discussed.

Some of the phone answering service providers include VoiceNation. VoiceNation’s services are a 7day free trial and full-time services. They also have an easy payment plan and have an easy to use mobile app. The second most popular provider of automated services is ruby. Ruby also offers fulltime services to clients and sounds significant to your clients. Also unique for ruby is the ability of lawyers to maintain their number or keep it private.

Another very affordable company for virtual answering services, which also specializes in law firms is USAnswer. USAnswer is recommended for Law Firms. They offer money guaranteed refund after 30day no questions full trial.

The deficiency created by receptionists is pushing lawyers and law firms to the need for automated systems. A computerized system responds to new potential clients and takes their details. The system also responds to inquiries from clients and provides answers when programmed. This system is available during off-hours, weekends, and holidays.

Another advantage of an automated system, unlike receptionists, is the ability to always respond, primarily through messages. Mechanical services are less likely to be overwhelmed by the overflow of calls and messages in the firm. It is sometimes possible to record some calls for future reference into a case or when working on the matter. This system is also relatively economical for an attorney.

Although there are a few challenges for automated systems, they ensure workflow in a law firm and for the attorney.

Man holding sign says Need A Lawyer?

5 Key Benefits of Hiring Salt Lake City Law Firm

When you face a dispute against the law, it’s important to seek the help of an experienced lawyer. In legal matters, there are some instances in which you may not need a lawyer but there are key areas where an attorney is required. Some of these areas include divorce, injuries, breach of contract, lost claims, losing a job, and criminal matter. It’s not advisable to represent yourself in a court of law because you lack the necessary skills and experience in dealing with legal matters. Some individuals may find it expensive to hire a reputable lawyer but in the long term, they’ll save a huge amount of money as well as their valuable time. Below are the key benefits of hiring Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Lawyer.

1. Legal Experience

Utah lawyers have enough experience in this field of law. They are well equipped in representing a case because they have been studying law as well as their key processes. Their enough experience enhances their understanding of how to follow and carefully adhere to legal procedures. It’s not advisable to represent yourself in the courtroom because you won’t be able to correctly file legal documents, the statute of limitations, legal technicality, and proper completion of legal forms. Utah lawyers have dealt with various trials that are similar to yours, therefore, they know how to make a calculated move on how to resolve a lawsuit.

A skillful attorney in Salt Lake City Utah will help you fill legal documents adhering to all deadlines and protocols. In addition, Utah attorneys will help you fill all the paperwork such as insurance documents. Utah lawyers have the ability to negotiate a higher or fair settlement with the opposing counsel or an insurance company.

2. They Understand the Legal Process

If you don’t understand the jargon, navigation of the legal process can be extremely frustrating and confusing. Utah attorney has enough skills in dealing with legal matters which helps give the best results. Their enough experience helps them understand the exact legal process which in turn enhances your chances of winning the case. Skillful lawyers will be comfortable with any kind of case irrespective of any unexpected instances. Utah lawyers have connections and legal resources which are key if your case is challenging and complicated.

Legal Process Outsourcing

3. Variety of Cases

Utah law firms have been in this field for quite some time. Therefore, you’ll be able to benefit from their past cases. No matter what your case may be, be sure an experienced lawyer has dealt with it before. In case they have not dealt with a somehow impossible case, they’ll have enough confidence to represent your case. With confidence and experience on your side, you can’t win. Lawyers who have dealt with a variety of cases have a higher chance to win a case. Therefore, it’s important to hire an attorney with a good reputation.

4. Perspective

Utah lawyers have been in this field for many years. This is key because it helps them have great insights and perspectives on your case. Their experience and skills can also give an expert attorney level-headedness which is beneficial. Experienced lawyers may help you cope well with your situation because they will guide you in making the right decisions. These decisions will help you get the best results out of your situation.

A professional lawyer has valuable perspectives because of more understanding about articles and provisions in the law of your state. This may include civil procedure code, criminal procedure code, intellectual property rights. These provisions and articles are key because they help a lawyer change the judgment if the case in your favor. In addition, a professional lawyer will provide the judge or prosecutor with a similar judgment that was in favor of your position( plaintiff or defendant). This will positively impact your case.

5. Good Negotiation Skills

A professional lawyer understands all the procedures to be involved in a court of law. This helps them make a calculated guess on how your case will be resolved at trial. Utah attorneys have enough skills to negotiate settlements as well as plea bargains. At some point in the trial, a settlement is a perfect choice but at other times it makes more sense to see your case go through. Also, an experienced attorney will help in negotiating a fair settlement with the opposing party.

Conclusion

If you’re seeking the help of an attorney, it’s a great idea to choose an attorney from Utah law firm. These lawyers have a good reputation and experience to deal with your case.

What to do if you witness an auto accident with injuries?

Accidents are generally frightful. It can shock you for a moment. You cannot think properly what to do exactly. It leaves you in a stunned situation. Nowadays, the chances of accidents are increasing. The more time you will spend on road, the more accidents you can see. But there are many people who simply avoid the critical situation in order to keep themselves save and secure from any kinds of upcoming problems. But if you are true human being, then you cannot ignore the whole fact. You should help the victim in this case. If you witness someone get hurt just because of some other person’s negligence, then you should go forward in order to help them in the critical situation. If you are walking and an accident takes place, then as a good and sensible citizen, you should help the victim.

Some important things that you should do:

If you witness some accidents nearby you, then you should help the man out of the problem. As a responsible citizen, it is your duty and responsibility as well.

Picture of Spartanburg

Safety first: Imagine if you are driving and an accident takes place in front of you, then you will have to park your car in a safe area before going out of the car. You should try to park your car at a maximum distance from the accident place. It can create space for the accident vehicles as well. The distance from the accident place can ensure your safety. After that you should put on your hazard lights. If you see the area is safe and secure then you will come out of your car. If you are on a busy highway then you should not come out of your car. If the car is smoking with fire, then you should not come out of your car and maintain a safe distance as well.

Call for help: Each and every second is countable in an emergency. So, it is better and smart to call the emergency number as soon as possible. If you witness the whole accident, try to describe each and every incident elaborately. You should give them your exact location.

Cautiously helping out: If you find it safe to get closer to the accident place, then you should help out the victim cautiously. You can help the victim in some primary cases such as you can give your phone to the victim in order to call the relatives and friends. You can also set up the road flares in order to block the accident area and separate it from the other portion of the road. If you will see that someone hurt badly and massively, then you should not try to remove them from their place. You can help them by giving proper and necessary first-aid if you can. Apart from this, you should wait for the emergency services and authorities to come and take care of the situation.

Wait till the police come: You will have to wait for the arrival of the police. As a witness, you can elaborate the whole matter to the authorities. If someone who is sacred or hurt due to this accident, then you should act as a source of comfort to them.

Stay calm: It may take some times for the authorities or the emergency services to arrive. It will be difficult to wait in some sort of situation. But you will have to wait till the police and emergency services come. In this case, you should keep yourself calm and quiet. You should not involve in any kinds of arguments. You will have to wait to give your statement and description to the police only.

Take care of yourself: The most important thing is to take care of you. It will be distressing if you witness an accident near you. So, you will have to settle down at first. If you cannot take care of yourself, then you cannot help the victim and others. After this incident, if you cannot feel right, then you should join a support group in order to get rid of the situation and mental trauma as well.

It is very important how you act in such frightful situation. It can spread a meaningful impact on both the victim and the emergency response authority. You can make a big difference by doing so.

Reference: Spartanburg Personal Injury Lawyers, Cummings and Lewis

Getting an Attorney to Handle Your Criminal Case

Within the complex criminal justice system, a defense attorney serves as the defendant’s guide, protector, and confidant. (At least that’s how it’s supposed to be.) Defense attorneys are usually grouped in two camps: court-appointed attorneys paid by the government and private attorneys paid by the defendant.

Some criminal defendants can afford to hire a private criminal defense attorney. For those who cannot afford an attorney (approximately eighty percent of all criminal defendants), the court may appoint counsel to represent the defendant (assuming certain qualifications are met). These court-appointed attorneys are either public defenders who are on government salary, or they are so-called “panel attorneys,” local attorneys chosen from a panel. A small fraction of criminal defendants (approximately two percent) represent themselves and are referred to as “pro se” or “pro per” defendants.

What Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Do?

Criminal defense attorneys (private and court-appointed) research the facts, investigate the case against their clients, and try to negotiate deals with their adversaries (prosecutors). These deals might include reduced bail, reduced charges, and reduced sentences. Because of a number of factors—political and public pressure, overcrowded jails, overloaded court calendars—deal-making has grown in importance and has become an essential element in unclogging the criminal justice system.

Criminal defense attorneys also examine witnesses, help formulate a plea, analyze the prosecutor’s case, assess the potential sentences (and the likelihood of a particular judge awarding such a sentence), review search and seizure procedures, question witnesses, and gather evidence. Defense counsel can also advise on potential immigration consequences or other consequences of a plea, conviction, or criminal record.

Defense counsel also provide more personal services by giving the defendant a reality check as to the possible outcomes and by helping the defendant to deal with the frustrations and fears resulting from being thrown into the criminal justice system. And of course, if no plea deal can be made, the defense lawyer represents the defendant at trial.

Cost of Legal Representation

A huge factor when it comes to legal representation is the defendant’s financial status and whether the defendant can afford private counsel.

Private criminal defense attorneys charge either on an hourly basis (expect to pay $150 an hour or higher) or by a fixed or set fee. They are prohibited from charging contingency fees, which are payments that depend on the outcome of the case. If the defendant is indigent (cannot afford private counsel), the court may appoint a government-paid public defender or panel attorney.

Some—but not many—folks have enough money so that paying for a lawyer isn’t a financial strain. But arranging for legal representation often isn’t as straightforward for those who fall in between these groups of people.

The bottom line for judges is that the right to free (government-paid) defense counsel generally kicks in whenever an indigent defendant faces a jail or prison sentence. If there is no possibility of incarceration—for example, a judge states on the record that she will not sentence the defendant to jail time—then the defendant might not be entitled to free counsel (depending on state law).

Note that the right to free representation does not mean a right to the lawyer of choice. A defendant who’s been appointed counsel normally doesn’t get to pick and choose in the way that a paying defendant does.

Is a Private Attorney Better Than a Court-Appointed Attorney?

Defendants sometimes believe that private attorneys possess a distinct advantage over the overworked public defender’s office or panel attorneys who are paid a minimum fee. But do private attorneys provide better representation than court-appointed government-paid defense counsel?

Many private attorneys are former prosecutors or public defenders. Based on studies that evaluate the outcomes of having a private versus court-appointed attorney, data seems to indicate that the results for defendants are often the same. For example, one study indicated that defendants represented by private counsel and public defenders fared similarly in conviction rates and sentencing (although those represented by panel attorneys fared worse). Such statistical evidence is not always reliable or clear because of complicating factors. For instance, clients represented by private counsel often have short or no prior criminal records, while indigent defendants are twice as likely to be repeat offenders. What is also unclear—and what creates one of the biggest uncertainties of the criminal justice system—is whether private attorneys can negotiate better plea deals than court-appointed counsel.

Ultimately, the experience, skills, and commitment of the particular attorney at hand—regardless of whether he or she is a public defender, panel attorney, or private lawyer—are the best indicator of the quality of the representation.

Self-Representation (Pro se)

What is clear is that being represented by a lawyer is almost always the best option. Nevertheless, some criminal defendants represent themselves. The decision of whether a defendant can self-represent is ultimately made by the judge, not the defendant. The judge is required to determine the defendant’s competency. That’s because a defendant who cannot provide a competent defense cannot get a fair shake, even if the defendant is adamant about not accepting the services of a court-appointed attorney. When determining whether a defendant can go pro se, a judge will consider factors such as:

  • the seriousness of the crime
  • the defendant’s language skills and education
  • whether the defendant understands the nature of the proceedings, and
  • whether the defendant is knowingly giving up his right to counsel.

Finding an Attorney

When looking for a private defense attorney, look for an attorney who specializes in criminal defense and practices in the jurisdiction (city or county) where charges are pending. A local attorney will be familiar with the judges and prosecutors in that area. Learn more in our article on what to look for in a private criminal defense attorney. You can also find more information on our home page, Geez Criminal Defense.

If you don’t have the financial resources to pay for an attorney, you will typically need to ask for court-appointed counsel (before or at one of your first court hearings) and fill our paperwork on your financial resources. Learn more in our article on public defender representation.

7 Tips to Help You Find the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer

Best Criminal Defense LawyerThe number of lawyers in the US could grow by 8% between 2016 and 2026. Unfortunately, that could make it more difficult for you to find a lawyer. If you’re facing criminal charges, you’ll need to find the best criminal defense lawyer for your case.

Otherwise, you could face serious charges.

If you’re in legal trouble, it helps to have a plan. Don’t make the mistake of hiring the first criminal defense attorney you find. Instead, use these seven tips to vet your options.

With these tips, you can find a lawyer with years of experience and expertise. Their case experience could help you avoid jail time. They might even get the charges dropped.

Beyond that, finding the best criminal defense lawyer in town will give you peace of mind in their abilities.

Start your search with these seven simple tips today.

1. Know What You Need

Before you hire a criminal defense lawyer, it’s important to be specific about what you need. Criminal defense law covers a mix of different cases. These cases are classified as:

  • Violations
  • Misdemeanors
  • Felonies

You could face different consequences based on the charges.

Violations can include disorderly conduct, trespassing, or unlawful possession of marijuana. If you were charged with a violation, you might face 15 days in jail.

Misdemeanors are a little more serious. They’re broken into Class A, Class B, and Unclassified cases. These charges might include prostitution or graffiti.

Felonies are the most serious types of crime. They can include rape, murder, or arson. You could get jailed for life if you’re charged with a Class A-I or Class A-II felony.

You can read more about criminal law here.

Consider the specifics of your case. What type of criminal charges are you facing? For example, your charges might involve:

  • Drug crimes
  • Embezzlement
  • Sex crimes
  • Violent crimes
  • Fraud
  • Theft
  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Domestic violence crimes

Once you understand the specifics of your case, you can find the right criminal defense attorney for your situation. Otherwise, you might choose a lawyer who lacks the experience or expertise you need.

2. Build a List

To find the best criminal defense lawyer in town, make a list of available lawyers in the area. You can start by visiting your local bar association website. Check for defense lawyers under the “certified criminal law specialists” tab.

Otherwise, check the Martindale-Hubbell directory. You can use their directory to find more information about each lawyer on your list.

Best Criminal Defense LawyerCheck your state or city’s criminal defense lawyer organization as well.

Otherwise, speak with a lawyer you’ve worked with in the past. For example, maybe you hired someone to draft your will or after a car crash. Ask if they can refer you to a criminal defense lawyer.

You can also Google “criminal defense lawyer near me.”

Try to learn as much as you can about each lawyer while you’re online. For example, are they a member of a local, professional organization? Look for lawyers who have held leadership positions over the years, too.

Their additional experience and expertise could strengthen your defense.

3. Look for Experience

As you look into each lawyer’s professional history, consider how long they’ve practiced law. Consider how long they’ve practiced in the area, too. Some laws can differ based on where the charges were filed.

Then, determine how long they’ve specialized in handling criminal defense cases.

It’s important to find a criminal defense litigator with years of experience. They’ll understand the laws and procedures relevant to your case. They can leverage their previous experience when building your defense, too.

An experienced lawyer will have an easier time building your defense strategy. Someone who just passed the bar, however, might struggle.

4. Consider Their Reputation

Start narrowing down your options by reading reviews from clients who were once in your position. You can find reviews on the law firm’s Better Business Bureau and Google My Business listings. Check their website for testimonials as well.

Pay attention to comments about the lawyer’s professionalism and confidence. You’ll want someone who is confident in their own abilities. Otherwise, they might struggle to argue on your behalf.

If you find an abundance of negative reviews, scratch that lawyer off your list.

Instead, choose the best criminal defense lawyer; someone with a strong reputation and the track record to back it up.

Best Criminal Defense Lawyer5. Schedule a Consultation

Schedule a consultation with one or two lawyers on your list. Meeting them in person can help you learn more about their abilities.

Pay attention to how the lawyer communicates. Are they easy to understand? If not, a judge and jury might struggle to understand them, too.

Use your consultation appointment to ask any lingering questions you have on your list. Discuss the details of your case, too.

6. Check Their Track Record

During your consultation appointment, ask each lawyer about their experience handling cases like yours, too. How many similar cases have they handled over the years? What was the outcome for each case?

For example, maybe they were able to get the charges dropped. Perhaps they were able to reduce the charges instead.

Asking about similar cases can help you develop realistic expectations moving forward.

Make sure to choose someone with a strong track record. You’ll want a winner at your side.

Ask the lawyer what outcome they expect for your specific case, too. Don’t hire a lawyer who gives you a guarantee. They can’t anticipate the outcome of your case.

Instead, choose someone who is honest and transparent. They’ll have your best interests in mind.

7. Ask About the Price

Criminal lawyers make nearly $81,000 a year.

Ask the lawyers you meet about their fee structure. Some lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. Others work based on an hourly rate.

Make sure to review their contract. Then, look over your notes. Which lawyer do you feel most confident in?

Choose the best criminal defense lawyer based on their ability to achieve your case goals.

Make Your Case: 7 Tips for Finding the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer Around

Don’t hire the first lawyer you call. Instead, use these seven tips to find the best criminal defense lawyer in town. With these tips, you can feel confident in your final choice.

They’ll help reduce your charges. Want to discuss the details of your case with a member of our team? We’re here to help. Contact us today to schedule your case evaluation.

 

9 Reasons Why You Need A Criminal Defense Lawyer

When you are accused of a crime and facing a criminal charge, you don’t want to go into court unprepared. Most individuals end up losing their case because they are unaware of their right, legal technicalities, and proper court procedures. There is a long list of procedures to be followed when you have to go to court. So, you must seek legal assistance from a criminal defense attorney when the stakes are higher than a simple fine. Many individuals do not hire a criminal defense lawyer to save the cost and fees associated with it. But the fact is that hiring a criminal defense attorney is always a wise decision because of the monetary fees of hiring a lawyer is always minimal as compared to the huge expenses resulting from losing your case. Hence, a criminal defense lawyer is necessary to have the best possible defense.

 

A criminal defense lawyer is well aware of the difference between all criminal cases so he can easily determine the factors and arguments that can be used to remove any charges relating to the alleged crime.

Let’s delve into some critical situations where you must seek the help of a criminal defense lawyer.

1.    Understanding of the Judicial System:

 

One of the most crucial reasons to hire a criminal defense attorney is that he has enough knowledge of how the judicial system of your country works. The legal system is complex and challenging to understand even for the people who work for it every day. Therefore, you should hire an experienced defense lawyer as he clearly understands the intricate workings and procedures of the court systems. He will guide you through the court process based on your case. Pasadena Criminal Lawyer has more than thirty years of experience in dealing with criminal cases.

 

2.    Following Proper Court Procedures:

 

When you have a good criminal defense lawyer in your corner, he will not compromise on your defense before even setting foot in court. There is so much paperwork involved when you are preparing to defend yourself in the court and a professional criminal lawyer knows the proper way of processing your case documents. Many legal hurdles can prevent your access to the court and the prosecutor may use this fact to his advantage. Most courts dealing with criminal cases involve rigid deadlines, bottlenecks, and legal procedures that can make you negligent of your personal responsibilities. Therefore, you should have powerful support of a well experienced and professional criminal defense lawyer. When the prosecutor knows that he is up against an experienced and competent lawyer, you are more likely to win a plea bargain.

 

3.    Relationships with Prosecutors:

 

An experienced defense attorney has developed relationships with prosecutors after working in the legal fields for years. While this may sound odd to you but lawyers have positive relationships with their counterparts as well. That is because both parties understand that they can have a better experience when they are familiar with each other. So, when you hire an experienced defense attorney, you can expect that he has developed a good relationship with your prosecutor. This relationship can prove to be useful for the outcome of your case. Their relationship may enable them to negotiate an affordable bond or a better plea deal. Your defense attorney is your spokesperson and knows how to rightly handle all the discussions and negotiations with law enforcement and prosecution. The discussion with the prosecution can often get heated but your lawyer can work to neutralize the situation. When your attorney has a good rapport and legal experience, you can rest assured that he will handle all the negotiations of your case professionally. If your lawyer has been working dedicatedly in your city, he may also be familiar with local judges and may be well aware of the best tactics to use for a particular judge when defending against the accusation.

4.    Better Examination of the Evidence:

 

Your prosecution has experts reviewing the evidence in the criminal case you are facing. So, you should also have a legal expert by your side. An experienced and competent criminal lawyer knows how to catch the evidence against you that may have been collected illegally to tamper your case. Moreover, your defense attorney knows how to deal with the witnesses who exaggerate the truth to prove the alleged crime and is able to point out any weakness in their statement immediately. Therefore, you need to hire a criminal defense lawyer to examine the evidence and witnesses presented by the prosecution. Moreover, when you hire a professional defense lawyer who belongs to a law firm, you will get support from a defense team. You can benefit from a wide range of connections your defense lawyer has with medical practitioners, private investigators, and expert witnesses. These connections can be consulted to add stronger evidence for your defense.

5.    Save You Money:

 

Although it may seem costly to hire a criminal defense attorney, you’ll actually end up saving money when you have an expert to guide you through the process. That is because when you have an expert attorney by your side, your case proceeds smoothly and efficiently. Therefore, a lawyer will reduce the amount of time your case can take to make it through the system. This can help you get back to your normal life as soon as possible. The financial considerations related to your charges can be higher as compared to the fee you pay to hire a criminal defense lawyer. Without a defense lawyer, the financial loss you bear can be higher resulting from lost income due to the time your case would take and the consequences of a potential conviction. Also, you can get a free consultation for your case from a well-reputed law firm.

6.    Get Expert Legal Advice:

 

A professional and experienced lawyer has spent years practicing law, so he knows how to deal with the charges in your case. He devises the legal ways to help defend your case. He knows how to use law in your best interests. You can rest assured that your defense lawyer has in-depth knowledge of the legal system and he is well aware of all the changes made to the law. He knows how to protect your rights from the prosecution and law enforcement. He will study your case carefully to find any evidence against you that may have been obtained improperly. He has the abilities to prove the wrong allegations with the help of strong evidence. Having your case reviewed by an expert criminal defense lawyer could lead you to have criminal charges dismissed successfully. He can easily identify the weaknesses that may exist in your case and knows the right tactics to hide them.

 

7.    Protect Your Future:

 

When you are facing a criminal charge, your life and future are on stake. Your life can dramatically change if you are proved guilty and you will have to pay high fees and penalties and spend years in prison. When you fail to defend yourself, the consequences can be serious from the inability to obtain a job to limitations on where you can live. A professional defense attorney can also help keep your criminal record clean so that it will not impact your future. Depending on your case and other circumstances, your attorney can have your charges reduces, penalties lessened, or the case dismissed. He can even help you set aside a conviction or have it removed from your record. He helps you avail the best possible options to reduce the impact a criminal conviction can have on your life.

8.    Get Personalized Attention:

 

While facing a criminal charge, you may feel like everyone is against you. You may not feel comfortable to share details of your case with the people who are close to you. When you have a sincere legal expert, you can comfortably discuss all your fears, insecurities, and everything regarding your case. Your defense lawyer will have your back. He will be there to support and guide you throughout the process. Many people suffer because of the lack of understanding of the court system and end up spending more time in jail or paying higher penalties. From not filing the proper paperwork to missing hearings, the process can be overwhelming for you to handle alone. A criminal defense lawyer understands the process when someone is arrested to the time when he or she is sentenced. That is why you need personalized attention of a criminal defense lawyer from the beginning of your case.

9.    Help You Consider All Settlement Options:

 

An expert criminal defense attorney can help you weigh all the choices you are offered from the types of charges to the plea deals options, and help you determine what’s best in your favor. He can also help you negotiate other potentially favorable options such as the possible dismissal of your case or reduction of penalties and charges. Other important options you may need to consider are whether you should accept a deal offered by the prosecution or go for the trial. Your attorney will inform you about all the potential consequences of every decision and the type of sentence you could face if you are convicted at a trial. He will also review all the outcomes of a guilty plea and can plea bargain a lighter settlement in exchange. You should not try to plea bargain without the help of a criminal defense lawyer.

5 Great Benefits Of Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer

Hiring a criminal defense lawyer is needed for any criminal case, but learn about the benefits of having one here.

Have you been charged with a crime and are worried about the way out? Don’t stress too much. Consult a defense lawyer to help you successfully navigate the legal system!

Being accused of a criminal offense can be scary and distressing, whether you’re at fault or innocent. It can even be more upsetting when the other party is hell-bent on sending you to jail, and they have government resources to do it. Plus, the legal and criminal process can be quite confusing and overwhelming for a first-timer.

There is plenty of paperwork to file, questions to answer from police officers, and evidence to gather. Any small mistake with these processes could jeopardize your case and mean a higher sentence, fine, or harsh charge on your record. You shouldn’t take chances.

Hiring a professional criminal defense lawyer can take away excess stress from you and significantly increase your chances of winning the case. Unless you know your way around the legal system, going it alone in criminal court is dangerous and not advised.

A criminal defense attorney will assess your case, build the best defense to support it, and protect your rights. Here are the main reasons why hiring a criminal defense lawyer is beneficial:

1. They Possess Extensive Knowledge Of the Legal System

When you want to win a battle, you take soldiers to the field and not teachers. Why? Simply because they are the ones that understand a war environment!

Good criminal defense attorneys are experts in criminal law. They have studied and practiced criminal law for several years. They know the ins and outs of the legal system and thus stand a better chance at building a solid case against your complainant.

They will assess the facts of your case; evaluate all the evidence brought forward, and find loopholes that can work in your favor. If you know nothing about criminal and legal procedures, you’ll most likely not even understand what your charges mean, let alone the consequences of those charges.

Having someone with knowledge of criminal defense law and some experience, as well as a good reputation, amplifies your chances of building a solid defense.

2. They Know People and Tactics to Navigate the Legal System

Part of winning a battle is knowing who the participants on the battlefield are. The chances of winning are also higher when you understand how the battlefield is laid out. In Criminal law, it’s imperative to have an understanding of the parties involved, including prosecution lawyers and judges.

If you decide to defend yourself, you’re likely to find yourself in murky waters if you don’t know any of the parties you’ll be dealing with. A prosecutor will consider you an easy target when they know you’re unrepresented.

On the other hand, criminal attorneys often interact with prosecution lawyers and judges, so they have a better understanding of how they operate. They know what arguments work best for them, as well as their biggest dislikes. There is nothing sinister about playing these facts to their advantage. After all, prosecutors and judges are also human beings, and they have their quirks.

Having this knowledge enables criminal lawyers to plan a smart defense strategy and know whether to go for a plea bargain or proceed to trial.

3. They Protect You From Hefty Penalties

In a battle, your opponents will definitely come down hard on you to ensure you lose and surrender. In a criminal charge, the prosecutors will be your biggest enemies. They will try as much as possible to crush you and add a win to their ‘accomplishment list.’

If you have been falsely accused of a crime, it can be quite distressing to receive a penalty for something you didn’t do. A criminal attorney will act as your shield against harsh prosecutors. They will help you prove your case and avoid severe penalties.

But if you’re found guilty (even when innocent), the attorney will make sure that you get a fair penalty. This could be a reduced sentence or fine.

4. They Have the Right Resources to Handle a Case Efficiently

Reputable criminal defense attorneys have the staff and resources to handle cases effectively. Legal representation is not all about court appearance to argue out points. It’s about gathering evidence, looking for witnesses and cross-examining them, and preparing winning strategies (as well as backup plans in case the chief plan fails).

Experienced criminal lawyers know how to obtain court resources to help their clients. For example, even if you hire an attorney, you may qualify for a court-appointed private investigator or court funds for expert witnesses, such as toxicologists or forensic scientists. Moreover, experienced criminal lawyers know how to use their resources efficiently and how to find experts who will make the best of what the court provides.

If you decide to represent yourself, it’s challenging to do all these things on your own. It will be expensive and time-consuming. Professional criminal lawyers delegate this work to their staff so that they handle different things simultaneously. Your criminal lawyer can worry about your case while you handle your daily life.

5. They Can Save Your Time and Money

All the time you’re likely to spend filling legal paperwork and following up on your case could be spent somewhere else. You could be at work or taking care of your family.
Defense attorneys are familiar with all legal proceedings relating to your case. As such, they know how to speed up the process, or slow it down, and foresee challenges before they happen. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer is your best shot at clearing your name fast and getting back to normal life.

Having an attorney by your side for criminal legal representation also saves you money in the long run. In the long term, your lawyer may save you money. For example, criminal restitution is often disputed successfully, which can save clients significantly more money than an attorney’s fee.

An attorney will ensure that they preempt any charges such as court costs, fines, and miscellaneous fees levied against you. They will also make sure you don’t miss many working days. If you’re found guilty, they will also negotiate for lower fines, saving you huge costs that can endanger your finances.

Hire a Lawyer

If you’re arrested or charged with a criminal offense, whether major or minor, don’t hesitate to consult a professional criminal defense lawyer. You stand to benefit from all the above advantages.
Contact us today if you need criminal legal representation!

How To Pick A Good Criminal Defense Attorney

Most people don’t keep the name of a good criminal defense attorney in their contact list (unless they’re personal friends).

That’s because most people don’t have to worry about getting arrested. But in the rare event you, or someone you love, gets arrested and needs to find a good criminal attorney ASAP, here are some tips.

Don’t automatically eschew the public defender. Generally, public defenders are among the best trained and most savvy attorneys you can get. They know the lay of the land, have probably tried more cases than most private attorneys, and generally are driven by mission, not money. That means they care. If you don’t make enough money to hire your own attorney and can get assigned a good public defender, don’t mortgage the house.  Better to use your money for bail than to pay for a high-priced attorney who may not do as well as the court-appointed one.  If you’re in a state or federal jurisdiction where the judge doesn’t inquire into your finances and pretty much assigns everyone public counsel, consider yourself lucky.

If you choose to hire a private attorney, how do you find a good one? Start with word-of-mouth.  Any friends who are lawyers know other lawyers in other fields.  They may be able to refer you to someone good, or at least refer you to someone knowledgeable who can then refer you to someone with the skills to do your case. (We’re all on listservs with access to info about good attorneys pretty much anywhere.)

Look on the internet, though this method is scattershot at best. Sometimes the attorneys who pop up first may not be the best. They could merely be the ones who invested the most money in Google ads or search optimization.  Yes, this shows they have good business acumen, but not necessarily good trial chops. That said, because we are now in 2019, the best attorneys should have a decent website that includes accomplishments, client reviews, important cases, and easy-access contact information. I’d look for how long this attorney has been practicing criminal law.  How many trials have they handled?  Did they come from a prosecutor or public defender background? (You make the choice of who would be more suited for your case.) You can always then cross-reference with a general Google search of the person’s name to see if he or she has handled many high-profile cases or has popped up in the news.

The amount of money a person charge doesn’t always correlate with excellence. I call this the “Hampton” syndrome.  A cousin of mine who works in the pool business in Southampton tells me if he doesn’t charge exorbitantly for his services, people won’t think he’s good.  So, the same job he’d do in Coney Island for 10K, he’d charge 50K for in the Hamptons. When I first opened my own firm after a stint at the public defender’s office, I didn’t know how much to charge clients.  A senior lawyer advised, “Find out what the person does for a living, figure out the highest amount he can pay, and that’s what you charge.”  I was the same exact lawyer I was when I was a public defender, but it’s funny how much my reputation improved when I started charging money.

Beware of the web so that claim to rate lawyer services like Avv. Their rating model is uneven at best.  Some of it makes sense.  They ask lawyers to solicit reviews from their clients and claim to have a system that ensures the reviews aren’t fake. However, their 1-to-10-star rating is based, in part, on what the attorney is willing to pay.  For example, all lawyers get solicitations from organizations selling accolades like “Best Of” awards.  Mail comes in from, let’s say, Lawyers of Distinction.  The letter states, “You’ve been chosen to be named among the 100 BEST Lawyers of the Year.”  The price was $350.   Avvo will award you an extra star if you pay for such an endorsement.  My theory is that Avvo gets a kickback from such companies.  (I’ve heard similar stories from doctors regarding their “Best Of” lists.)

 

7 Criminal Defense Attorney Strategies & Tactics 2022

In a criminal case, a defense is the argument(s) and supporting evidence that attorneys present to the courts with the aim of securing the best possible outcome for their clients. Therefore, for any criminal lawyer, a defense strategy is crucial to the case. Their choice of strategy can make the difference between winning and losing the case presented against their client by the prosecution. Strong arguments with a well-developed defense theory that utilize the best defense attorney tactics will result in a good sentence for the defendant. The choice of strategy could even result in a verdict of “not guilty” or a favorable plea bargain. On the other hand, poorly formulated defenses can result in the defendant facing fines or imprisonment.

As the most important aspect of fighting criminal charges and beating the prosecution’s claims, it is essential you know the best strategies and techniques in a criminal defense. In this article, we share proven legal defense and arguments that will help you win your case, along with essential factors to consider when formulating a theory.

7 Common Criminal Defense Strategies

1. Beyond Reasonable Doubt

According to US law, the defendant can only receive the verdict of “guilty” if the evidence presented to the courts points toward their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the jury, or in some cases the judge, does not receive satisfactory evidence, they will not be able to charge the defendant with committing the crime. In federal cases, the jury’s verdict must be a unanimous decision. Therefore, one of the most common court defense strategies is to establish reasonable doubt.

The best way to do this is to question the credibility of the witnesses brought forward by the prosecution. This can be done by demonstrating bias, making the jury believe the witnesses could be lying, or suggesting the witness has been bribed. A criminal defense lawyer may also question the plausibility of a testimony by offering other logical explanations for events that transpired. Poking holes in evidence can also spark doubt, so many attorneys will point out errors in police reports or in how physical evidence was gathered.

Accidental Crime

Determining whether the sentence will be handed out for an accidental crime, rather than a premeditated and deliberate incident, will vary from state to state. This process is entirely dependent on the criminal code. For example, California’s Penal Code differentiates between deliberate and unintentional offenses. The majority of other US states also serve a lesser punishment to the defendant if the event is shown to be an accident with no criminal intent. This is true even for major crimes, such as first-degree murder. For example, if a woman shoots a neighbor and murders them – the defense could argue that she simply intended to threaten the neighbor with the weapon and fired it accidentally. In such a case, the fact that she murdered the neighbour was unintentional and may be deemed an accidental crime.

Self-Defense or Imminent Danger

3D render of a crime scene tape against defocussed city background

Similar to accidental crime, many states permit crimes if they were committed on the grounds of self-defense or to protect others. Examples of imminent danger include fear of being murdered, raped, burgled, or suffering from great bodily injury. If the criminal activity was carried out under duress of imminent danger, it may not be considered a crime, and no punishment will be imposed. However, for a self-defense argument to be accepted, the force used against the intruder must be proportionate to the harm feared. For example, courts may deem that a man who stabs an intruder who enters with a knife, may be deemed proportionate. However, if the man shoots and kills the same intruder who enters with a knife, this may not be deemed proportionate.

Defendant Alibi Evidence

Another of the most frequently used defense tactics is to provide an alibi for the defendant. It is impossible for the defendant to be guilty of the prosecution’s claims if it can be proven that they were somewhere else at the time the crime was committed. This is an appropriate tactic to use if the accused is in complete denial of committing the crime and has a way to prove they are not responsible.

To work as a defense strategy, the alibi must be backed up with evidence. For instance, a criminal lawyer may bring forward witnesses that can testify to the alibi, or any video footage, photographs, or GPS records that prove the defendant was not at the scene of the crime. The more physical evidence of the alibi presented, the more believable the alibi will be. However, for alibi defenses based on witness testimonies alone, credibility is crucial. The testimony needs to be trusted by the jury, so choosing witnesses who have no personal connections to the defendant and bringing forward multiple people can strengthen this type of defense.

Man reading a book. Education, Academic, Learning and Exam concept.

Sometimes members of law enforcement commit misconduct, which creates another of the best criminal defense strategies. There are multiple ways that police may not conduct themselves appropriately or even illegally. Some of the most common forms of police misconduct include:

  • Coercing false confessions or intimidating witnesses or suspects;
  • Planting, doctoring, or mishandling evidence;
  • Obtaining evidence without probable cause;
  • Using unnecessary force on subjects that are cooperating;
  • Exaggerating facts or lying in police reports; or
  • Performing unwarranted surveillance, searches, or seizures.

If a criminal defense lawyer can prove misconduct among law enforcement occurred, the case will likely be dismissed by a district attorney or the courts prior to the trial. In such cases, there is also a chance for the defendant to pursue a civil rights case and claim for damages caused by law enforcement.

6. Plea of Insanity

For a defendant to be charged with a crime, there must be wilful intent. This cannot be proven if the person is legally insane. This is because the person accused may not have understood the criminal act or may not have been aware of the moral consequences. Therefore, another great defense strategy is to prove the client is legally insane. A plea of insanity works as a solid defense strategy in the majority of US states, with the exception of Idaho, Kansas, Montana, and Utah. These four states do not allow insanity as a defense argument.

In all other states, an attorney can prove insanity by utilizing an insanity defense test. The exact test used and the criteria for proving insanity vary widely and depend on the criminal code of each jurisdiction. However, all insanity defense tests rely on one of four legal standards:

  1. The Model Penal Code Test: The defendant is unable to understand that the act they committed was criminal due to their mental disorder.
  2. The Durham Rule: The defendant’s mental illness is responsible for the crime, regardless of whether they have been clinically diagnosed or not.
  3. The Irresistible Impulse Test: The defendant is unable to control their inclinations and desires due to mental illness.
  4. The M’Naghten Rule: The defendant is unaware of the moral consequences of their actions and cannot distinguish between right and wrong due to their mental disorder.

7. Statute limitations

The statute of limitations is the maximum period of time after a crime is committed that any legal proceedings may be initiated. Therefore, if a case is filed against a defendant for a crime committed many years ago, and this time period has passed d, it may be subject to dismissal. This legislation is in place as evidence can deteriorate over time and result in unfair convictions, such as alibis and witness testimonies holding less weight.

The criminal code of each US state determines the statute of limitations and varies drastically between each jurisdiction. In Wyoming, for instance, there are no limitations in place and legal claims can be brought forward for a case at any time. However, Michigan has a 6-year statute of limitations for misdemeanors. The nature of the crime will also influence how long the statute of limitations is, with many having no limitations on serious crimes such as murder charges, especially that of the first degree. Therefore, this defense may not be appropriate for all crimes. It is best to check the criminal code of each state before using this argument.

Considerations for Creating a Criminal Defense Strategy

Portrait of modern businessman busy working with papers: reading contract documentation, analyzing it

While the above criminal defense strategies have all proven to get a case dismissed, it is important to remember that each criminal case is entirely unique. The best criminal lawyers will look at several factors and develop a theory based on the specific details of the case at hand. In criminal law, it is not a case of simply revealing the truth – lawyers will have to weigh multiple factors and choose the path that demonstrates the defendant’s innocence the most. This strategy gives the defendant the best chance of success against law enforcement, providing reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.

10 practical tips for getting into law school

Student at a laptop

If you are thinking about going to law school, there are several steps you can take while you are an undergraduate to help you succeed.

Aurora University alumni came together as part of AU’s Sundays @ 7 Career Conversations with Alumni to share their advice on how to prepare for law school. Becoming a lawyer requires a college degree, typically three years of law school, and passing the state bar exam.

Here are their top 10 tips:

  1. Choose a major that interests you.

    Many majors can give students a competitive edge in law school. Three examples: English bestows reading and writing skills, psychology informs students on human nature, and criminal justice teaches students about legal processes. Law schools don’t require specific undergraduate courses, so select a major that interests you and challenges you to develop your critical reading, writing, and analytical skills. Communication, history, political science and public policy, and business administration are other good options.
  2. Manage your time.

    For law students, few things matter more than time management. Learn to manage a busy schedule by participating in activities beyond the classroom as a student-athlete, in student government, as a volunteer, or by working a part-time job.
  3. Get used to scrutiny.

    Law professors teach using the Socratic method, which entails openly challenging students. This may feel like they are picking on you, but your professors are actually trying to see if you can think on your feet. Become used to scrutiny by practicing public speaking, running in a student election, or speaking up more in class.
  4. Look for internships.

    Internships give you insights into a potential profession in ways textbooks and the classroom can’t. If you’re intrigued by the law, find an internship that allows you to see how attorneys work. Internships with law firms, the court systems, lobbying organizations, and a company’s legal department are just a few options to pursue.
  5. Get involved outside of class.

    Law schools get to know student applicants through their extracurricular activities. School admissions officers want to build a diverse student body and look for applicants who demonstrate a diversity of thought and experiences. Use your undergraduate years to explore many different activities.
  6. Write a strong personal statement.

    When it comes time to complete your law school applications, the personal statement is key to showing law school admissions officers who you are. Spend weeks honing this statement. Outline exactly what you want to say. Remember: It’s harder to write a short, concise statement than it is to write a long, rambling one.
  7. Keep up your GPA.

    Focus on academics. Earning a high grand point average is one of the most important factors in getting into law school.
  8. Invest time in studying for the LSAT.

    Just like your GPA, your Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score is a determining factor for getting into law school. It also affects your ability to earn scholarships. Plan to study hard, either on your own with study guides or through a preparation course. Be sure to take practice tests, so when you sit for the LSAT, you are prepared.
  9. Read landmark cases.

    Every panelist agreed: Students interested in law school should read Marbury v. Madison, a Supreme Court case in 1803 that established the principle of judicial review in the U.S. The landmark case is considered one of the foundations of U.S. constitutional law.
  10. Keep an open mind.

    Just as many undergraduates change majors, once you are in law school, you may find yourself interested in new areas of the law that you hadn’t considered. Lawyers have a wide range of jobs in many different fields such as business, entertainment, environment, estate planning, family law, government, immigration, insurance, intellectual property, medical malpractice, military, and tax. Keep your mind open to be sure you find the area of law you most enjoy.

More about Sundays @ 7 Career Conversations with Alumni

AU’s Office of Alumni Relations and the Center for Student Success livestream the Sundays @ 7 Career Conversations with Alumni series at 7 p.m. on various Sunday evenings throughout the year.

The pre-law panel — moderated by Matt Dabros, AU associate professor of political science and pre-law advisor — took place in February via Zoom.

The panelists were:

  • Yury Kolesnikov ’06 is an attorney at Bottini & Bottini Inc., a law firm in La Jolla, California, that specializes in representing the rights of shareholders, whistleblowers, and consumers in complex civil litigation. He majored in psychology and criminal justice at AU and graduated from University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law.
  • Kim Rios ’11 is a judge advocate for the U.S. Navy in Rota, Spain. She majored in political science and English at AU and graduated from DePaul University College of Law.
  • Nina Tholl ’19 is a second-year law school student at UIC John Marshall Law School in Chicago. She majored in psychology and sociology at AU and was a member of the softball team.

14 Different Types of Legal Defenses in Criminal Law

When you have been charged with a crime, one of the first questions you might ask is what types of defenses are available to you. This is where you will need them to know the legal defenses in criminal law, and where defense lawyer strategies that have been perfected with time and experience can help you.

There are many different types of criminal defenses. Your attorney can help you explore your rights and options, including which defense or defenses are available and applicable in your case.

What Is a Criminal Defense?

So just what is criminal defense? Criminal defense is a strategic argument that attempts to challenge the validity and sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence. The prosecution often referred to as the state, the people, or the United States for federal crimes, is the party trying to prove the criminal charges against you. The prosecution must prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

This breaks down as they must prove every element of the crime you have been charged with beyond a reasonable doubt. This is called the “burden of proof,” and it is a heavy one.

14 Common Defenses to Criminal Charges

There are many common defenses to criminal charges. A defendant may argue that there are holes in the prosecution’s case, that evidence was gathered in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights, that another individual committed the crime, that the defendant had a justifiable reason for committing the crime, that the defendant lacked the intent to commit the crime, or that that defendant had a mental incapacity which caused him or her to commit the crime.

what are the major criminal law defenses common

While some defenses are merely raised with the aim of showing that the prosecution has failed to make its case, other defenses are affirmative defenses, meaning they must be independently proven. So, what are the major criminal law defenses? We have provided a helpful list of the major criminal defenses below.

1. Innocence

One of the simplest defenses to criminal liability is the defense of innocence. This defense is raised when you did not commit the crime. Remember, the prosecution has to prove every element of the crime charged against you and prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

To be innocent you do not have to prove anything. However, you have the option of offering testimony, documents, and other evidence in support of your innocence.

2. Constitutional Violations

These are types of criminal defenses used in criminal trials and involve the way evidence was collected by police and other law enforcement. Don’t miss these important defenses, because they could result in the dismissal of the entire case.

Constitutional violations include illegal search and seizure of your home, car, clothing or person, failure to obtain a warrant for entry, obtaining an improper confession, or failure to read you your “Miranda Rights” at the time of the arrest. Police often make mistakes in the way they do their job. These mistakes may require suppression of evidence against you, if not a dismissal of the prosecution’s entire case.

3. Alibi

Certain types of defenses in criminal law, such as the alibi defense, are affirmative defenses. This means the defendant (you) must prove the defense, and in the case of an alibi, it means that the defendant must prove that he or she was somewhere other than the scene of the crime at the time of the crime.

Supportive evidence a defendant might offer includes testimony from someone he or she was with, surveillance footage, receipts from a restaurant, store, movie theater or sporting event, or phone records.

4. Insanity

The insanity defense, which you may hear about all the time in tv courtroom dramas, is used infrequently for a few reasons. The first is the insanity defense is another affirmative defense, which requires that the defendant prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he or she was suffering a severe mental disease or defect at the time the crime was committed.

The insanity defense means that either the defendant was unable to distinguish right from wrong when the crime was committed (the M’Naghten Rule), or the defendant had an “irresistible impulse” to commit a crime, meaning that he or she knew what they were doing was wrong but was unable to stop doing it.

The second reason insanity is rarely raised is that the defense requires the defendant to admit that the crime was committed and that they committed it. If the jury does not agree that the defendant was insane, they have admitted too many of the facts against them, and probably given the prosecution a very easy win. A third reason insanity defenses are used less than you might think is that a successful insanity defense generally results in institutionalization.

5. Self-Defense

The defense of self-defense may be raised for crimes like assault, battery, and murder, where the defendant used violence in a justified way to respond to violent actions or the threat of violent actions coming from the victim. The amount of force used by the defendant must be reasonable and proportionate (generally, the same or less) to the amount of force used by the victim.

For example, a defendant’s self-defense against a middle-aged man attacking him with a broken bottle in a bar fight will be treated very differently than his self-defense against toddlers climbing on him in a daycare setting.

6. Defense-of-Others

Like self-defense, another defense involving justified use of force or violence is the defense-of-others defense. This may be used where the defendant used violence to protect someone else – a spouse, a child, another family member, or even a stranger. A person could invoke this defense if they used violence to stop someone who physically attacked another rider on a bus.

7. Defense-of-Property

Similar to self-defense and the defense-of-others, the defense-of-property defense may be raised where the defendant used force or violence to protect property, such as land or items, from damage or destruction. This defense has an additional limitation, in that the amount of force used to protect property can never be lethal.

8. Involuntary Intoxication

Involuntary intoxication is a lack of intent defense. If the defendant was in a state where he or she did not know what they were doing due to intoxication, this defense cancels out the intent aspect of most crimes.

Can being too drunk or too high really serve as a defense to committing a crime? The answer is maybe. If the person who was intoxicated did not become voluntarily intoxicated, such as if their drink was “spiked” or they ate something at a party did they did not realize was “laced” or drugged with a narcotic.

9. Voluntary Intoxication

Unlike involuntary intoxication, getting drunk or high deliberately and then committing a crime will not stand as a valid defense. However, certain crimes that have a specific intent requirement – meaning, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to commit the act, and additionally, intended the specific consequences of his or her act to occur – may be subject to the voluntary intoxication defense.

legal defenses in criminal law

10. Mistake of Law / Mistake of Fact

Sometimes, a defendant may have been unaware of a fundamental element of a crime that the prosecution has charged him with. For example, if a defendant is charged with stealing a car, but believed his family member or friend wanted to give him the car, a mistake defense would exist.

This defense is also a useful embezzlement defense or fraud defense. For example, with an embezzlement charge, if the defendant was in a position of authority or responsibility over someone else’s property, kept or used the property without the permission of its rightful owner, used the property to his or her benefit, and had the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property, this would ordinarily constitute embezzlement. However, if the defendant thought he or she was given the authority to use the property by the person, such as believing he or she was supposed to make an investment with the victim’s money, they would have a valid mistake defense.

11. Duress or Coercion

This defense involves someone else threatening to use force or violence to get you to do something against your better judgment. Essentially, it means you were forced to commit a crime. Many Hollywood movies about organized crime families – The Godfather, Goodfellas, The Departed – all focus on the mafia using coercion to entangle people in their criminal activities, by threatening to harm them or their families. These types of situations provide potential duress or coercion defense.

12. Abandonment / Withdrawal

This defense can be raised when a defendant initially intended to commit a crime or participate in a crime but had a change of heart and withdrew from participation. For most crimes, a defendant can establish that he or she successfully abandoned or withdrew from a crime by showing that he or she stopped participating in the crime prior to its ultimate commission, that any actions undertaken by the defendant prior to abandoning the crime did not contribute to its successful completion, or that the defendant notified the police of the planned crime as soon as possible.

13. Necessity

This is a defense that applies where the defendant committed a crime to prevent more significant harm from happening. For example, the defendant stole a car to drive a gunshot victim to the hospital or stole food to feed his starving family. The defense would not apply if the same defendant stole the car to take a vacation or stole laptops from an electronics store during a riot.

14. Statute of Limitations

This is a procedural defense. Sometimes, a certain crime will have a specific window of time in which it can be brought by the prosecution. If the window closes, the statute of limitations may bar the prosecution from bringing the case.

This is an overview of the defenses which may be available in your criminal case. For an analysis of the particular facts and circumstances of your case and to choose the best defense or defenses available, an experienced Houston federal criminal attorney can help. Contact Seth Kretzer today to schedule a consultation.

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15 Biggest Pros and Cons of Being a Lawyer

In a list of the most hated professions that are available in the United States and around the world from The Balance, lawyers ranked at #5. The only jobs that were ranked as being worse were dentists, used car salesman, school principals, and stock traders. There are many jokes out there that portray attorneys as being liars, thieves, and snakes – and those are from the least offensive examples that you can find online.

When you work as a lawyer, then your job is to represent and advise clients in criminal or civil cases. Attorneys will often specialize in a specific area of the law so that they can maximize the impact of their services. Numerous categories are available with this career option, including immigration, probate, divorce, injury, bankruptcy, and criminal law. Some attorneys preferred to be general practitioners who can cover every area.

Once a client hires you as a lawyer, then your job is to help them navigate the legal system. We often see attorneys arguing cases in court in the movies are on TV, but most of them rarely set foot in the courtroom. They will prepare paperwork, offer advice, and work in other areas of representation instead.

Here are some of the pros and cons of being a lawyer to consider.

List of the Pros of Being a Lawyer

1. There are numerous career options available to you in this field.
One of the best benefits of being an attorney is the fact that you can select from a wide variety of career options in the private or public sector. You can choose to represent the law in your community as a criminal prosecutor. There is also the option to become a criminal defense attorney so that you can work to protect innocent lives. You can even choose to become a public defender to help those who might be unable to help themselves.

There are several different areas of law in which you can specialize once you pass the bar as well. If you are passionate about real estate, domestic planning, or corporate law, then you can find work within the specific area that you love.

2. You can operate your own business as a lawyer.
How do you find work as an attorney depends on the amount of flexibility that you want to have in your schedule. You can choose to start your own business after graduating with a law degree, work in a partnership, become a public servant, work for a corporation, or become a junior lawyer in a large law firm. Some people like to work with multiple clients because that structure gives them a lot of social energy to enjoy. Others prefer to work with one client over a long time because the structure offers more job security and work consistency. It is all up to you.

3. There can be financial rewards to your work as an attorney.
Although attorneys are not making as much money in this generation as they did before, you can still expect to have an average annual salary above $110,000 per year. It is difficult to reach this level of income when you first graduate with your degree, but most lawyers can start to earn a reasonable living in five years or less.

You will not experience the benefit of being a lawyer if you decide to go into public service with your law degree. Public defenders make about 50% of the median for this career in the United States, while prosecutors can earn about 75% of the national average in most jurisdictions. Sometimes the satisfaction of helping someone navigate the legal system is worth more than what you earn on your paycheck each month.

4. It is a career opportunity that provides numerous intellectual challenges.
You will notice right away that your work as a lawyer will be mentally stimulating almost every day. There are complex legal theories, case law examples, and evolving statutes which you must navigate in order to reach a successful solution. You must implement your analytical skills daily to ensure that you are providing the best possible outcome for your clients. You will be solving problems, speculating on situations, forming hypotheses, and developing a legal strategy so that your client can win their case or settle for an amount that they feel is satisfactory.

5. You get to work in a job where arguing and debate takes the center stage.
There are some attorneys who will never argue a case in a courtroom because of the clients they choose to take. You will also find that there are trial lawyers who are in court almost every week because they are arguing a new case. If you enjoy the challenge of debate, especially in the adversarial justice system that is present in the United States, then this career could be the right choice for you.

Some attorneys relish the idea of arguing their legal theories and working to improve the case through their interpretation of the law. If that brings personal satisfaction, then you will love this career.

6. Attorneys work in a positive environment with real offices.
Most lawyers work with a government agency, corporation, or law firm where you have the privilege of working in an actual office. That means you have four walls, some privacy, and maybe even a window to enjoy while you are getting through your daily responsibilities. That means you can avoid the issue of being in a cubicle in the middle of the office where you must manage the relationships you have with coworkers along with the deadlines that you must meet.

Being an attorney means that you are afforded certain privileges that come with the prestige of this degree that other vocational opportunities do not have. You can have access to an expense account, set your own hours, and some lawyers even have a decorating budget they can access.

7. There is a lot of flexibility available in your daily schedule as a lawyer.
Even though some attorneys have unpredictable schedules, demanding quotas, and long hours to work each week, there does tend to be more flexibility in this career than in others that are available today. Some law firms even offer the opportunity to telecommute or work in alternative schedules to expand the amount of time that you can spend with your family. You might even have the option to hire a virtual assistant who can reduce your workload even further.

8. You will learn skills that transfer to other career options.
One of the most significant benefits that you can access with a law becoming an attorney can transfer over to an alternative career. There are several different legal careers that you can pursue if you decide that being a lawyer is not the right option. You can get into legal consulting, publishing, administration, banking, technology, and even human resource management with your education.

List of the Cons of Being a Lawyer

1. There are high levels of stress in this career.
Being a lawyer means that you will face numerous deadlines throughout your career. There will be billing pressures that your business must confront every month. You will be working long hours, face difficult client demands, and be continuously researching changes to the law as they occur. Because of these issues, 44% of today’s practicing attorneys say that they would not recommend this profession to someone who is debating what career path they should follow. Depression, mental health concerns, and suicide are all at higher rates in this industry compared to the general population.

2. You will work long hours as an attorney.
Lawyers are asked to put in long hours every week to support their clients, especially in the early years of their career. As rising workloads and shrinking staff levels occur, attorneys are working more today than ever before. Having work weeks top 60 hours is not uncommon in this field, and some are putting in more than 90 hours each week. Because it is such a competitive environment to find the best jobs, there’s more time spent on business management and client development than billable hours in some situations.

3. It costs a lot to attend law school for your education.
The cost of attending law school is outpacing the rate of inflation in most areas of the United States and around the world. You can expect to pay at least $40,000 per year to attend an institution even if that school has a less-than-positive reputation. If you want to earn a degree from one of the best law schools in the country, then you might pay over $100,000 per year for your educational expenses.

It is not unusual for a new attorney to open their practice or find a job through a partnership well trying to manage over $250,000 in student loans. New graduates do not always earn enough to repay this debt with the competitive market that is in place today, so earning a law degree is not the guarantee of financial success that it used to be.

4. Clients are spending less on attorneys thanks to self-service products and websites.
Most people and businesses are becoming more conscious of how much they spend when there is a need to navigate the legal system. After experiencing several years of billing hikes that have exceeded the rate of inflation, your clients will demand more value for the amount that they pay to receive your services.

This disadvantage keeps the billing rates reasonable, but it also cuts into your potential profits. Today’s market will not allow attorneys to charge top dollar to perform tasks that a paralegal or a self-service site can complete.

5. More legal work is going to foreign countries with cheaper labor.
The trend to outsource legal work to other countries is not something that is going away anytime soon. Because other nations have a lower standard of living, the cost of labor is not as much there as it would be to complete the same work in the United States or other developed countries. That means you will continue to see more opportunities sent to regional delivery centers or lower-wage workforces, which means many of the traditional positions which were once available are now gone.

6. It is a career opportunity with a poor public image.
Just take a moment to look up jokes about lawyers through your favorite search engine. Many of them contain negative energy, and some websites that publish jokes even carry a parental warning saying that the humor may not be suitable for children.

“What’s the difference between a vacuum cleaner and a lawyer on a motorcycle?” “The vacuum cleaner has the dirtbag on the inside.”

If you decide to pursue this career option, then you will never escape the negative stigma that attorneys have in our society. You could be the best lawyer in the history of the world and still hear jokes like this every day.

7. You cannot always pick and choose your clients.
If you want to make a living as a lawyer, then you will not have many opportunities to pick and choose which clients you decide to represent. People who need lawyers is not a single, simple demographic that you can evaluate for marketing purposes. You will find that they are just as many people who are wealthy, sophisticated, and arrogant as there are individuals who are poor, messy, and unlucky. If you work in criminal law, you may not even know for certain if your client actually committed the act that connected you to them in the first place.

You will not like all of them, but you will have to give each person your best representation to manage your reputation. If you are intolerant of people that you don’t like, then becoming a lawyer is not the right choice to make.

Are You Ready to Become a Lawyer?

The pros and cons of being a lawyer show us that you can make a tremendous difference in the lives of people if you can manage the investment which is necessary to get your foot in the door in the first place. You can choose to specialize in a specific area of law, work as a public defender, or pursue employment through corporate means once you earn your degree.

If you love this kind of work, then the negative stigmas that society has for attorneys will not be that bothersome. You will still have high-stress levels and long work hours with which to contend, but these challenges are manageable if you have a passion to help others navigate the legal system.

Law Firms with the Highest Amount of Profit Per LawyerAverage Annual Income of Lawyers in the United StatesStatistics on Lawyer Employment Benefits

5 Ways to Assess Whether a Criminal Defense Attorney is Any Good

No one wants to be charged with a crime. But, if you are, or, if one of your friends or loved ones is, here are five things to consider when deciding whether you’ve got a good defense attorney or not.2016-01-16-1452968715-824397-oATTICUSFINCH5701.jpg

No one wants to be charged with a crime. But, if you are, or, if one of your friends or loved ones is, here are five things to consider when deciding whether you’ve got a good defense attorney or not.

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1. Irrespective of payment or a client’s guilt or innocence, from the start, a good criminal defense attorney cares and takes steps to ensure the client’s constitutional rights are protected, and vindicated, and that the client is treated fairly and humanely by the criminal justice system. This doesn’t mean everything is going to go smoothly, or, that every decision from the first court appearance is going to go in the client’s favor. Usually, and particularly with serious charges, it doesn’t. But, a good defense attorney, whether representing an accused serial killer or shoplifter, is going to fight tooth and nail for their client — and it should be obvious they are — even if decisions by prosecutors, probation officials, and judges don’t immediately reflect their efforts.

2. Criminal defense attorneys, like judges, prosecutors, probation officers, and cops, are “repeat players” in the criminal justice system. Not always, but often, before a criminal case begins, the defense attorney has an established working relationship with the prosecutor and a passing familiarity, or better, with other repeat players in the case. This can be good because if the attorney has a good reputation (for being competent, passionate, and ethical, for example), they will be in a better position to negotiate and advocate for the client as the case winds through the system. This relationship between repeat players is important to be aware of because some defendants (or their family members) might see the defense lawyer share a smile or laugh with a prosecutor or probation officer and start immediately thinking — jeez, is this person on my side? But, the reality is, that smile or laugh may be part of a strategy the attorney is using to secure an advantage — be it information that might help defend the case, the dismissal or reduction of charges, a good plea deal, a favorable bond determination — or a million other decisions and calculations affecting a criminal prosecution. Remember the familiar adage: “You can catch more bees with honey?” It applies.

Now, don’t get me wrong, if a criminal defense attorney is constantly cozying up to the prosecutor and other repeat players such that it seems like he or she might actually care for them more than the client — that’s a problem — a big problem. But, then, likely, the lawyer in question is not zealously defending the client — see number 1 above — and the client should already be trying to get a new lawyer.

3. A good defense attorney doesn’t care if their client “did it.” Overwhelmingly, criminal defendants want their defense lawyers, just like they want everyone else, to believe they’re innocent. But, a good defense attorney doesn’t care whether their client is innocent or guilty because it’s of no moment as it concerns their constitutional obligation to try and beat the case, or, failing that, to secure the best, least penal outcome. Good defense attorneys aren’t focused on whether their clients are innocent or guilty. Instead, they protect and fight for defendants of both stripes using all available energy and resources.

4. A good defense attorney doesn’t accept what is in police and prosecution reports. Once assigned a case, he or she, in conjunction with a trained criminal investigator, will immediately begin investigating the allegations by demanding that the prosecutor turn over information (called “discovery”) about the case, collecting records, going to the scene of the alleged crime, talking to witnesses, hiring experts, taking statements, securing relevant video footage and pictures, serving subpoenas, etcetera.

5. A good defense attorney will regularly remind and urge their client to exercise their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, insisting they not talk to anyone, except the defense lawyer and investigator, about the allegations. At the same time, a good defense attorney will regularly meet and talk with their client about their case whether the client is locked up or not. Defense attorneys are uniformly busy people, but, if they’re any good, they will make time to talk to their clients. Not only do they have an ethical obligation to do so, they know and appreciate that the best part of being a criminal defense attorney is the relationships formed with clients.

So, what do you do if you or someone you love doesn’t have a good defense attorney?

Well, if it’s a private attorney being hired, research should be done to find an attorney who has a good reputation for criteria 1-5 above. If it’s a court-appointed attorney or public defender not doing their job, it will be more difficult, but generally not impossible, to secure a substitute. What the client has to do — not a family member unless the client is a juvenile — is speak up! Without saying anything about the charges, they must write to the judge or tell the judge at their next court hearing that they want, in private, without the prosecutor present, to talk to the judge about how their attorney is failing them — using concrete examples of how (see criteria 1-5 above as a guide). There is a chance the judge will decide the client is right, or, that there has been a “complete breakdown” in the attorney-client relationship such that the appointment of a new defense attorney is required no matter what.