Being accused of a crime, for most people, is a life changing event. It can also be a rather frightening and confusing experience if you have never been involved with the criminal justice system before. If you were recently arrested and accused of a criminal offense, the best thing you can do for yourself is to hire an experienced Nebraska criminal defense attorney to represent you. Of course, if you have never needed a criminal defense attorney before you may have a number of questions about how one represents you and exactly how they put together a defense. For example, do criminal defense attorneys conduct their own investigations? The answer to that question may be particularly relevant if you feel the investigation conducted by the police was not handled well.
The Job of a Criminal Defense Attorney – Myths and Misperceptions
Before getting into specifics about how your criminal defense attorney might handle your representation, it may be helpful to address some of the common myths and misperceptions surrounding the job of a criminal defense attorney. First and foremost, a criminal defense attorney’s job is to protect your rights throughout the prosecution of your case. Your attorney does not need to prove that you are innocent – in fact, your guilt or innocence is often irrelevant to a criminal defense attorney. Why? Because the State of Nebraska, through the prosecuting attorney, has the burden of proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant never has the burden of proving himself/herself innocent. A job of a defense attorney, therefore, is to make sure you are not convicted unless the State has met its burden. Although most defendants do put on a defense, a defendant is not even required to do so at trial because the burden rests with the State to prove the defendant guilty.
When and Why Would Criminal Defense Attorney Conduct an Independent Investigation?
There are two basic scenarios in which an arrest occurs. The first involves a law enforcement officer actually observing a crime (think DUI stop) or being called to the scene and making an arrest shortly after the crime occurred (think shoplifting). The second is when an arrest is made after an investigation conducted by a law enforcement agency. This usually applies to more serious felony offenses such as robbery, sexual assault, murder, and/or drug trafficking. While an independent investigation by your attorney could be called for in either type of scenario, it is more likely to occur in the second scenario because those arrests occur after a law enforcement investigation.
Whether or not your criminal defense attorney decides to conduct an independent investigation in your case will be decided on a case by case basis based on the facts and circumstances of the case; however, it is certainly possible that an investigation will be conducted. One of the most common reasons for a defense attorney to order an investigation is because it appears that the police didn’t do a very thorough job in their investigation. Sometimes the police find something they think is incriminating, or they find a potential suspect, and they simply stop investigating any further. There could be a wealth of additional evidence out there, or several other viable suspects, that were never uncovered because the police simply called an end to their investigation.
Another reason why your attorney might decide to investigate your case is to find out how well your version of events will hold up at trial. Part of your attorney’s job is to anticipate what the State will do at trial, including how they will attack any defense you do present. Therefore, your attorney wants to find any potentially adverse evidence or testimony before the State does so you are not surprised by it at trial.
Finally, your criminal defense attorney might also want to conduct an independent investigation because it appears that the police did something wrong during their investigation. For example, did they coerce someone into consenting to a search of your home? If so, your attorney needs to know that because your attorney might be able to get any evidence found during that search suppressed, or excluded, from trial.
If you are currently facing criminal charges in Nebraska, it is certainly in your best interest to consult with an experienced Nebraska criminal defense attorney right away. 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.