Criminal Defense Frequently Asked Questions
If you or your loved one is facing criminal charges, you probably have many questions. While the specifics of every case are different, there are general questions you may have. We will answer some of those questions below, such as guilty pleas, criminal record history, what should you do when arrested, experience of counsel, and further questions you should ask your attorney.
Can I Just Plead Guilty to the Crime I’m Accused Of?
You can do whatever you want. But remember, a criminal conviction, even a simple misdemeanor, includes long-term consequences. You may find it difficult, or impossible, to get a job. You may also:
- Lose your professional license
- Have your name in local headlines
- Lose respect from your family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors
- Spend several years in jail and pay thousands in fines
- Lose access to federal student aid
The reality is that, while you think you are guilty of your charges, your personal judgment and the law are two different things. You may be able to plead to lesser charges, or even get your case dismissed or get a “not guilty” jury decision.
Does my Old Criminal Record Matter?
This depends on many factors. Kent recognizes that youth, mental illness, and drug or alcohol addiction could have played a much larger role in your life in years past. It’s his goal to show the judge the person you are now – not the one you were decades ago.
If I’m Arrested, How Soon Should I Act?
You should act as soon as you have your chance to make your phone call. The longer you delay, the harder it is to prove your innocence in court.
And if you’ve been arrested, sometimes law enforcement officials have already been building their case against you for months. So, you’re already behind.
Juries also generally assume innocent people act quickly and don’t hesitate (whether that’s true or not).
Do I Have to Be Careful When Calling from Prison?
Yes, very careful. You do have a right to a private phone call. However, in some prisons legal authorities notify you verbally, or via a sign (or both), that your call is being recorded. You can also ask them if they’re recording your call.
They can use what you say against you in court if you have been notified. If they are recording your phone call, contact your criminal defense attorney and ask them to meet you in person.
How Much Trial Experience Should My Lawyer Have?
Believe it or not, many lawyers want to avoid trials because they’re not comfortable in them. The lawyer you end up hiring should have at least 10 years of experience and have been in 40-50 trials. That way, you know they know all the ins and outs of the legal system.
What Types of Questions Should I Ask Attorneys?
There’s several to ask to make sure you’re working with the right one. Some of the most important ones:
- Do you have experience defending my specific charges?
- What percentage of your cases includes charges similar to mine?
- What kind of relationship do you have with the prosecutor’s office?
- What are the potential defenses you’re going to use to defend my case?
- Which facts of my case work for and against my innocence?
- How does the entire process work?
- How many trials have you been in?
- What’s your current caseload?
- Who actually does the work on my case? Is that you or do other lawyers help?
- Do you charge a flat or hourly rate?
- How do you want your fees paid?
- What additional legal expenses will I have to pay?
- Do you have some cases similar to mine that you could discuss?
How Do I Know Which Attorney to Hire?
Now that you’ve addressed those questions, here are some to ask yourself so you end up making the right hire:
- Which attorney makes me feel the most confident?
- Which one was the most experienced with charges similar to mine?
- Who has a fair, clear fee structure?
- Whose defense strategy makes the most sense?
If you face criminal charges of any kind, call Plano, TX criminal defense & DWI attorney Kent Starr today at (469) 500-5000.