For the average person, being charged with a criminal offense is a frightening, and often times confusing, experience. Along with worrying about the outcome of the case, navigating the criminal justice system can leave an accused feeling bewildered and very much alone. For many, it feels as though their life has suddenly spun out of control. Retaining the services of an experienced Nebraska criminal defense attorney should be your first step toward regaining control of your life. If you have never needed the services of a criminal defense attorney before you may be unsure what to expect from your criminal defense attorney. Although every case is unique, there are some common things that any defendant should be able to count on from his/her attorney. Your Nebraska criminal defense attorney should:
· Explain the State’s case against you. The average person’s knowledge of criminal procedures is limited to what he/she has seen on television or read in a best-selling fiction novel. Not surprisingly, what you see on a television cop show often bears very little resemblance to real life. In real life, you could be arrested, arraigned and even released on bail and still have virtually no idea why you were arrested nor what evidence the State has against you. The prosecuting attorney is required, however, to turn over all of that information to your attorney who, in turn, should take the time to thoroughly explain it all to you.
· Discuss possible defense options with you. Sometimes there is more than one possible way to defend the charges against a defendant. Moreover, you always have the option to pursue a plea agreement instead of a defense. Your criminal defense attorney should take the time to explain all the options to you at the beginning of the case.
· Protect your rights. As an accused you have a number of very important rights that stem from the Bill of Rights found in the U.S. Constitution. Your attorney’s job includes making sure you understand your rights and that those rights are not violated during the prosecution of your case. Some of those rights include:
o The right to counsel
o The right to a trial by jury
o The right to remain silent
o The right to confront and cross-examine witnesses against you
o The right to subpoena witnesses in your favor
· Investigate the crime (if applicable). You can rest assured that law enforcement agencies, and the prosecuting attorney’s office, have thoroughly investigated your case or you would not be in the position you are in at the moment. If a corresponding investigation on your part might turn up exculpatory evidence and/or witnesses in your favor your attorney should make sure that investigation occurs.
· Be your voice. One of the most reassuring benefits of hiring a criminal defense attorney is that from the moment you are represented by counsel your attorney becomes your voice. No one, including the prosecuting attorney and law enforcement officers, may speak directly to you from that point forward. All communication goes through your attorney.
· Act as your advocate. At the heart of any attorney’s job is the need to be an advocate for the client. When the client is accused of a criminal offense this may include more than just defending the client. It may also include facilitating the client’s release from custody, helping the client handle the media, and/or assisting the client’s entire family deal with the accusations against the client.
· Advise you of your options. This is one of the most important, yet often overlooked, duties of a criminal defense attorney. Contrary to what many people (and even some attorneys) believe, it is not your attorney’s responsibility to decide how to proceed with your case. Your attorney’s job is to make sure that you understand your options and then let you decide which direction to go with your case. For example, you may have a viable defense in your case; however, the State has also offered you a very favorable plea agreement. Your attorney’s job is to make sure you understand both options and the likely outcomes if you take both options. You then need to choose which way to proceed.
· Respect your decisions. Along with allowing you to decide how to proceed in your case, your attorney should always respect your decisions. Remember, your attorney works for you, not the other way around.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
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