THE LAW OFFICE
OF CHRIS BEARDSLEE
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Why Do I Need a Criminal Defense Attorney?
A criminal defense attorney represents their client throughout a criminal case and guides them through all of the nuances and hurdles of hearings, discovery, motions, and sets them up for the best possible resolution in their case. A criminal defense attorney can help their client at every stage of the criminal case all the way from the initial investigation through the final disposition of the case.
In Florida, if a Defendant cannot afford to hire a criminal defense attorney, the Court may appoint The Office of The Public Defender in the County which has jurisdiction over the case to represent them. Typically, a person must fill out a financial disclosure form to ensure that they qualify for the services of the Public Defender. If a Defendant has the financial resources to hire a lawyer, the Court may deny the services of the Public Defender and expect the Defendant to retain counsel on their own.
Private criminal defense lawyers represent clients who pay money to retain them for their services. Many private attorneys also devote a portion of their practice to taking cases on a pro bono basis.
A criminal defense lawyer is more or less a guide for the Defendant and acts in their client’s best interests to:
- File motions to suppress evidence illegally obtained
- File motions to exclude evidence that is unduly prejudicial
- File motions to dismiss charges not supported by sufficient evidence
- Analyze the discovery and evidence both for and against the Defendant
- Appear on the Defendant’s behalf for hearings where appearance is waivable
- Engage with law enforcement and The State Attorney’s Office to advocate for client’s needs
- Contact witnesses and collect statements from parties involved in the case
- Prepare and conduct depositions when appropriate to take sworn testimony
- Advocate for client through all states of a trial
Jury and Non-Jury trials are not always required to resolve a criminal case. Before trial, the prosecutor and defense attorney typically discuss potential plea bargains. Plea bargains depend on numerous factors including the strength of evidence in the case both for against the prosecution, the Defendants criminal history, the severity of the charge, the diligence of the defense attorney, and the internal office policies of the varying prosecution teams.
The ultimate decision on whether to go to a trial or not is entirely up to the Defendant. While an attorney may help guide this decision, the Defendant has the final say. If the client is found guilty at trial, a criminal defense attorney can continue to fight the case by filing a direct appeal, filing a post-conviction motion, or advocating for the best possible sentence that can benefit their client.