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What Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Do?

On Behalf of | Oct 25, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Facing criminal charges in California can be a life-changing experience. While the state enforces some criminal statutes that are relatively lax compared to similar statutes in other states, California also enforces some very harsh criminal laws that can come into play in many types of cases. If you or a loved one has been charged with any criminal offense in the Riverside, CA, area, it’s essential to know your rights regarding defense counsel and what you can expect from a good criminal defense attorney.

Who Needs a Criminal Defense Attorney?

Every US citizen charged with any criminal offense has the right to legal representation, even if they cannot afford to hire a private defense attorney. For example, a California court can appoint a public defender to represent a defendant free of charge if the defendant is unable or unwilling to pay private attorneys’ fees. You must recognize the importance of defense representation as you begin your criminal case; do not assume that you can explain your side of the situation and have your case dropped unassisted. Even if you were wrongfully accused, the prosecution might have extensive circumstantial evidence that casts you in a poor light. You may not know how to establish an alibi or prove your innocence.

In the United States, the criminal justice system functions on the concept of “innocent until proven guilty.” This means that whenever criminal charges are filed against an individual, the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; the accused is not necessarily required to prove they are innocent, though being proactive in criminal defense and establishing an alibi is the best option whenever possible.

Most Common Criminal Cases in California

California police make arrests daily for a wide range of offenses committed throughout the state. The police must adhere to the laws of due process and follow appropriate procedures when investigating crime scenes, detaining suspects, and conducting lawful arrests. In addition, various state and national agencies collect and analyze crime data to better inform public policy. These records show that a few types of offenses are far more common than others in California:

  • Property crimes, such as theft or larceny, cost Californians billions yearly in damages. In addition, someone can face theft charges for the unlawful taking of anyone else’s property. “Burglary” applies when the defendant breached a private residence or business to steal from the property. “Robbery” is a violent theft form involving forcibly taking property off a victim’s person.
  • Drug offenses. Drug crimes are some of the most commonly prosecuted criminal offenses throughout the United States annually. Although California enforces relatively relaxed drug offense laws compared to many other states, it is still possible for any defendant charged with a drug-related offense to face a wide range of severe penalties.
  • Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. It is extremely dangerous for anyone to operate a vehicle while intoxicated, and doing so in California can lead to criminal conviction with harsh penalties.
  • Violent crimes. Unfortunately, California has one of the highest statewide rates of violent crime in the country. These offenses often carry harsh sentences for those convicted, especially if they caused severe bodily harm to their victims.

Regardless of the type of charges you face, it is crucial to have defense representation experienced with cases like yours. This is especially true if you have been charged with multiple offenses or if your case will unfold in federal court. Experienced defense representation is essential, no matter what your case entails. The right defense attorney can help you secure a case dismissal if possible or, at the very least, minimize your penalty when a conviction is a certainty.

How Your Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You

An experienced criminal defense attorney can provide several valuable legal services throughout your case. First, they will review the details of your arrest, the grounds the police used to establish probable cause, and the evidence stacked against you. While you may feel the system is working against you, your attorney can potentially reveal defenses you did not realize were available to you. The sooner you secure defense representation, the sooner your legal team can begin crafting your defense and helping you avoid the most serious penalties you face.

While it is the prosecution’s job to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, it is the defense attorney’s mission to prevent this from happening. A good criminal defense attorney will ensure their client’s civil and constitutional rights are observed and respected through all their interactions with the criminal justice system.

When a defendant has been wrongfully charged because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, experienced illegal profiling, or were targeted by a malicious false accusation, their defense lawyer should focus on establishing their alibi and proving the defendant could not have committed the offense in question. However, if the defendant has broken the law, their defense attorney is still an invaluable asset who can potentially help the client minimize their penalty.

Some prosecutors are willing to make plea deals with some defendants. A plea deal ensures the defendant submits a guilty plea, minimizing court resource expenditures on a protracted criminal case. In exchange, the prosecution may offer reduced charges and/or a lighter penalty. Plea deals are typically only offered to first-time offenders and those charged with nonviolent offenses. A defendant with an extensive criminal history is unlikely to receive offers for plea agreements from prosecutors.

Find Your Defense Team Now

Time is a critical factor after an arrest for any criminal offense. Therefore, it is best to secure defense representation as soon as possible after arrest and to exercise your right to remain silent until you have legal counsel representing you. You are allowed to make phone calls after arrest and booking in California, so you must ensure one of those calls goes to an experienced criminal defense attorney you can trust to represent you. Contact the Exum Law Office today to schedule your consultation with a Riverside criminal defense attorney you can trust.