If you were recently arrested and charged with a criminal offense, and this is your first time as a defendant, you probably have a wide range of questions about the criminal justice system in general and about your case in particular. Since it is also likely the first time you have ever needed to hire a criminal defense attorney, you may also have questions about your relationship with your attorney and about what your attorney is doing for you. Because much of what your criminal defense lawyer does occurs when you are not around, you may start to wonder what your attorney is doing for you. To help put your mind at ease, consider the following five things your criminal defense lawyer is doing for you behind the scenes.
- Investigating the allegations. Your defense attorney will not depend solely on the evidence gathered by the State. Instead, your attorney will conduct his/her own investigation into the allegations. Exactly what this means will depend on what you are charged with and the unique circumstances of the case; however, it may involve interviewing witnesses, scouting the scene, and even employing a private investigator to uncover additional evidence.
- Analyzing the evidence. The State is required to provide your attorney with the evidence it intends to introduce against you at trial. This is referred to as the discovery process. Not only will your attorney analyze and review that evidence, but independent examinations may be ordered and/or experts consulted as well. For example, if the State claims that blood splatter evidence indicates someone of your height committed the crime, your attorney may hire a blood splatter expert to review the same evidence and provide a separate report to see if he/she reaches the same conclusion.
- Protecting your rights. Your attorney is always aware of, and protective of, your constitutional rights. Sometimes, your attorney will take direct action to protect those rights. For example, if the prosecution wants to conduct a search of your home or business, your attorney will likely object and force the State to obtain a warrant first. If a search was already conducted, your attorney may challenge the legality of the search by filing a motion to exclude the evidence seized during the search.
- Negotiating a resolution. Often, the prosecuting attorney offers a defendant a guilty plea agreement which will resolve the case without the need for a trial. Of course, accepting a plea agreement requires a defendant to plead guilty to at least one criminal offense. As an accused, you are never required to accept a guilty plea agreement; however, your attorney will likely work on negotiating the most advantageous terms possible for you in case you do decide to accept a plea agreement.
- Preparing for trial. A criminal defense lawyer is preparing for trial from day one. Because an attorney never knows whether a case will end up going to trial or not, he/she is thinking in terms of a trial from the very beginning of the case. Along with analyzing the evidence and preparing your defense, preparing for trial also includes things such as preparing proposed jury instructions, deciding what type of person you want on the jury, and a wide variety of other things that happen behind the scenes.
As a defendant, it is perfectly understandable that you are nervous and you want to know what is going on in your case at all times. Keep in mind, however, that just because your attorney isn’t calling you with a daily update doesn’t mean your attorney isn’t working hard on your case. On the contrary, this is one of those times where the old adage “no news is good news” typically applies.
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer at Petersen Law Office
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in the State of Nebraska, consult with an experienced Omaha criminal attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case.