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Criminal Defense Attorney Taylorsville Utah

Criminal Defense Attorney Taylorsville Utah
Criminal Defense Attorney Taylorsville Utah

Criminal Defense Attorney Taylorsville Utah

Within the complex criminal justice system, a Taylorsville defense attorney serves as the defendant’s guide, protector, and confidant. (At least that’s how it’s supposed to be.) Defense attorneys are usually grouped in two camps: court-appointed attorneys paid by the government and private attorneys paid by the defendant. Some criminal defendants can afford to hire a private criminal defense attorney. For those who cannot afford an attorney (approximately eighty percent of all criminal defendants), the court may appoint counsel to represent the defendant (assuming certain qualifications are met). These court-appointed attorneys are either public defenders who are on government salary, or they are so-called “panel attorneys,” local attorneys chosen from a panel. A small fraction of criminal defendants (approximately two percent) represent themselves and are referred to as “pro se” or “pro per” defendants.

What Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Do?

Criminal defense attorneys (private and court-appointed) research the facts, investigate the case against their clients, and try to negotiate deals with their adversaries (prosecutors). These deals might include reduced bail, reduced charges, and reduced sentences. Because of a number of factors political and public pressure, overcrowded jails, overloaded court calendars deal-making has grown in importance and has become an essential element in unclogging the criminal justice system. Criminal defense attorneys also examine witnesses, help formulate a plea, analyze the prosecutor’s case, assess the potential sentences (and the likelihood of a particular judge awarding such a sentence), review search and seizure procedures, question witnesses, and gather evidence. Defense counsel can also advise on potential immigration consequences or other consequences of a plea, conviction, or criminal record. Defense counsel also provide more personal services by giving the defendant a reality check as to the possible outcomes and by helping the defendant to deal with the frustrations and fears resulting from being thrown into the criminal justice system. And of course, if no plea deal can be made, the defense lawyer represents the defendant at trial.

Cost of Legal Representation In Taylorsville Utah

A huge factor when it comes to legal representation is the defendant’s financial status and whether the defendant can afford private counsel. Private criminal defense attorneys charge either on an hourly basis (expect to pay $150 an hour or higher) or by a fixed or set fee. They are prohibited from charging contingency fees, which are payments that depend on the outcome of the case. If the defendant is indigent (cannot afford private counsel), the court may appoint a government-paid public defender or panel attorney. Some but not many folks have enough money so that paying for a lawyer isn’t a financial strain. But arranging for legal representation often isn’t as straightforward for those who fall in between these groups of people.

The bottom line for judges is that the right to free (government-paid) defense counsel generally kicks in whenever an indigent defendant faces a jail or prison sentence. If there is no possibility of incarceration—for example, a judge states on the record that she will not sentence the defendant to jail time—then the defendant might not be entitled to free counsel (depending on state law). Note that the right to free representation does not mean a right to the lawyer of choice. A defendant who’s been appointed counsel normally doesn’t get to pick and choose in the way that a paying defendant does.
Is a Private Attorney Better Than a Court-Appointed Attorney?
Defendants sometimes believe that private attorneys possess a distinct advantage over the overworked public defender’s office or panel attorneys who are paid a minimum fee. But do private attorneys provide better representation than court-appointed government-paid defense counsel? Many private attorneys are former prosecutors or public defenders. Based on studies that evaluate the outcomes of having a private versus court-appointed attorney, data seems to indicate that the results for defendants are often the same. For example, one study indicated that defendants represented by private counsel and public defenders fared similarly in conviction rates and sentencing (although those represented by panel attorneys fared worse). Such statistical evidence is not always reliable or clear because of complicating factors. For instance, clients represented by private counsel often have short or no prior criminal records, while indigent defendants are twice as likely to be repeat offenders. What is also unclear and what creates one of the biggest uncertainties of the criminal justice system—is whether private attorneys can negotiate better plea deals than court-appointed counsel. Ultimately, the experience, skills, and commitment of the particular attorney at hand regardless of whether he or she is a public defender, panel attorney, or private lawyer are the best indicator of the quality of the representation.

Self-Representation (Pro se)

What is clear is that being represented by a lawyer is almost always the best option. Nevertheless, some criminal defendants represent themselves. The decision of whether a defendant can self-represent is ultimately made by the judge, not the defendant. The judge is required to determine the defendant’s competency. That’s because a defendant who cannot provide a competent defense cannot get a fair shake, even if the defendant is adamant about not accepting the services of a court-appointed attorney. When determining whether a defendant can go pro se, a judge will consider factors such as:
• the seriousness of the crime
• the defendant’s language skills and education
• whether the defendant understands the nature of the proceedings, and
• whether the defendant is knowingly giving up his right to counsel.

Finding an Attorney

When looking for a private defense attorney, look for an attorney who specializes in criminal defense and practices in the jurisdiction (city or county) where charges are pending. A local attorney will be familiar with the judges and prosecutors in that area. If you don’t have the financial resources to pay for an attorney, you will typically need to ask for court-appointed counsel (before or at one of your first court hearings) and fill our paperwork on your financial resources. Learn more in our article on public defender representation.

Criminal Defense Law In Taylorsville

Criminal defense law consists of the legal protections afforded to people who have been accused of committing a crime. Law enforcement agencies and government prosecutors have extensive resources at their disposal. Without adequate protections for the accused, the balance of power within the justice system would become skewed in favor of the government. As it is, fair treatment for criminal defendants often depends as much upon the skill of their defense attorney as it does the substantive protections contained in the law. Defense attorneys know how to use constitutional guarantees to the advantage of their clients. For example, all criminal prosecutions are based upon evidence gathered by the government. This may include physical items of evidence, witness statements, confessions, drug and alcohol tests, and so forth. Someone who has been tried and acquitted of a crime cannot again be charged with that office, as mandated by the “double jeopardy” provision of the Fifth Amendment. The Sixth Amendment guarantees criminal defendants the right to a public trial, and in many cases, the right to have their guilt or innocence decided by a jury. It also affords the right to confront adverse witnesses, and to use the court’s subpoena power to compel the appearance of favorable witnesses.

Securing a Release from Jail Pending Trial

Following an arrest, the first thing defendants will want to do is get out of jail. Besides the obvious inconveniences, being in jail prevents defendants from working and earning money in order to pay a defense attorney and meet their other financial obligations. This can be especially problematic for those who will later plead guilty and face expensive fines and assessments. Defendants who are incarcerated are also at a disadvantage because it is more difficult for them to assist their attorney in preparing a defense. Obtaining a release from jail while a case is pending requires the defendant to post bail. In simple terms, bail is good faith money, giving the court a form of collateral to ensure the defendant returns to court to attend future proceedings in the case. If the defendant fails to appear, the bail money is forfeited. A defendant who cannot afford bail may use a commercial bond service or ask the judge to reduce the bail amount. Judges may agree to reduce bail if it can be shown that the defendant has strong ties to the local community and does not pose a danger to others.

Plea Bargaining Strategies In Taylorsville, Utah

A vast majority of criminal cases never reach the trial stage. The defendant and the prosecuting attorney will instead enter into a settlement agreement known as a plea bargain. Basically, the defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for a lenient sentence. Defendants seeking a plea bargain can take one of two general approaches. They can fight the government at every turn, making the prosecutor’s job more difficult, and giving the prosecutor an incentive to get rid of the case through a plea bargain. Alternatively, defendants can fully cooperate, demonstrate true remorse, and convince the prosecutor that a lenient sentence is appropriate because they have changed their criminal ways.

Presenting a Winning Defense to the Jury

When a case does proceed to jury trial, one of the keys to success is presenting a coherent, persuasive theory to explain to the jury why the defendant has been falsely accused. The defendant’s attorney will touch upon this theory throughout the trial, creating a narrative that resonates with jury members in that community and reinforces their pre-existing beliefs about the issues in the case. Developing the right theory and presenting it effectively is the goal of every criminal defense trial lawyer.

Types of Criminal Defenses

If you have been accused of a crime, you will have to appear in court. The accused in this situation is known as the defendant. As the defendant, you and your criminal attorney will likely want to establish some sort of criminal defense to prevent a guilty verdict. A criminal defense is a strategic argument that attempts to challenge the validity and sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence. The prosecution is the party trying to prove the criminal charges against you.

Affirmative Criminal Defense

Some criminal defenses attempt to strike down the prosecutions evidence by showing that it is false. However, there are a number of types of defenses that accept some of the prosecution’ evidence as true. These defenses are often referred to as affirmative defenses. Affirmative defenses require that the defendant, along with his or her criminal attorney, produce evidence in support of the defense.

For example, say you have been charged with first-degree murder. First-degree murder is when you plan the murder beforehand. You and your attorney may choose to produce an alibi witness. An alibi witness is someone who testifies that you could not have committed the alleged crime. In this example, the alibi is the defense. The type of defense that you and your attorney choose to pursue will depend, in part, on the crime you are accused of committing, as well as the evidence available to you.

The Insanity Defense

Made popular by television shows and movies, the insanity defense is not actually used frequently nor is it often successful. This defense states that you committed the alleged crime but had did not know that what you did was wrong. To successfully use the insanity defense, you must have had a severe mental disease or defect at the time the crime was committed. You and your attorney must present clear and convincing evidence that you have such a mental disease or defect and that this disease or defect resulted in your not understanding that your actions were wrong. Relying on the insanity defense can be risky. By using it, you are admitting that you committed a crime. This means that if the jury rejects your insanity defense, it will likely find you guilty. Before using this criminal defense, consult with your criminal lawyer.

Coercion and Duress

Coercion and duress is an affirmative criminal defense that basically says you were forced to commit a crime because you were threatened with unlawful force. This unlawful force does not have to actually occur. Merely the threat of unlawful force can be enough to satisfy the coercion defense. The force or threat of force does not have to be threatened against the individual accused of the crime. Rather, it could have been used against or threatened against another individual, such as a family member. The coercion and duress defense cannot be invoked if your reckless actions put you in the situation that caused duress. For example, if you were to take part in a drug deal, which then led you to become subjected to unlawful force that then led you to commit another crime, such as robbery, you would not be able to use this criminal defense successfully.

Abandonment and Withdrawal

Abandonment and withdrawal is another type of criminal defense available to defendants. This defense is also referred to as renunciation. This defense basically states that you were going to commit a crime or be an accomplice to a crime but then decided to abandon any involvement. It is technically an affirmative defense, so you and your attorney must show evidence to prove abandonment occurred. In addition, for the abandonment and withdrawal defense to be effective, your actions prior to withdrawing from the crime must not have in any way contributed to the crime, or you must have notified the police in advance of the crime.

Other Criminal Defenses

There are a number of other criminal defenses that a defendant can invoke. Some of the more common criminal defenses include:
• Self-defense: This defense states that one’s actions, which otherwise would be considered criminal, were necessary in order to defend oneself.
• Consent: This defense acknowledges that the defendant did commit some sort of action but also states that this act was consented to by the victim. An example of this defense is consent to bodily harm.
• Intoxication: Although being intoxicated won’t necessarily clear you of most crimes, it can in some situations negate an element of a crime.
• Statute of limitations: This defense states that the amount of time the prosecution has to bring charges against a defendant has passed, and therefore the charges must be dropped.

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