Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What can a criminal defense attorney do for me if I’m guilty?
A: The criminal justice system requires that a judge or a jury find a defendant guilty of a criminal offense only after the prosecutor proves every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Whether you feel guilty or not, you are considered innocent in the eyes of the law until you are proven guilty. You have a constitutional right to defend yourself and, under the protection of the Fifth Amendment, you need not incriminate or testify against yourself. A criminal defense attorney can protect your rights and ensure that the prosecutor meets its burden of proof before you are convicted of any crime.
Q: Can I get a free attorney?
A: You may be entitled to a public defender if you qualify. However, if you can hire your own attorney, you may receive more personalized attention than a busy public defender.
Q: My bail was already set. Is it too late to get it reduced?
A: Your criminal defense attorney can request a bail reduction. There are several factors a court can consider when setting or reevaluating bail amounts. These factors may include your criminal history, ties to the community, available finances, the seriousness of the criminal charges and other factors.
Q: What if I just plead guilty?
A: You may plead guilty. Normally the judge who takes your guilty plea will ask you to explain the basis of your guilty plea. Even judges want to make sure criminal defendants understand their rights and the possible punishments they are facing. Pleading guilty without the advice of a criminal defense attorney, however, is not advised. When you plead guilty you give up your right to a trial, you are no longer presumed innocent, the state need not prove its case against you, you no longer have the protection of the Fifth Amendment and you may be facing jail time, fines and other penalties you never imagined.
Q: What if I plead guilty? Then what happens?
A: After you plead guilty, the judge may sentence you immediately or may require reports from the prosecutor or from you before sentencing. Whether you are sentenced immediately or not, you are not a convicted criminal, which may have an affect on your current and future employment, security clearances, right to travel, family relationships and more. Since a criminal conviction can have many long-lasting serious effects on your life, it’s recommended that you consult with one or more criminal defense attorneys before pleading guilty to any criminal charges.